Street Parking Changes Will Be Delayed Following Public Outcry

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Monday, June 17, 2019, 8:23 am
By: 
Andrew Graham

This No Parking sign on Sunset Lane in the Glencairn neighborhood will remain covered up while the Department of Public Works re-examines its plan to reduce street parking.

In the aftermath of meetings with disgruntled residents, East Lansing’s Department of Public Works announced Friday it is delaying the start of a parking pilot program to reduce street parking in the city.

At two separate meetings with DPW Director Scott House on Thursday, a total of 17 residents — overwhelmingly from the Glencairn and Oakwood neighborhoods — aired grievances over potential changes to street parking.

Earlier in the week new “No Parking” signs had been installed in several neighborhoods, including Bailey, Glencairn and Oakwood – prematurely, according to House. The installation was supposed to come after communication to residents about the pilot program, but the signs, not yet enforceable, went up and the complaints flowed in.

Primarily, the concerns resided in the loss of street parking near houses with back-alley drives or with short and narrow driveways on streets such as Sunset Lane in the Glencairn neighborhood where, according to those at the meeting, street parking had never presented problems for them.

The City’s pilot program, according to House and East Lansing Fire Chief Randy Talifarro, stemmed from general complaints from citizens about narrow streets with two-sided street parking, particularly on days when Michigan State University plays a home football game. The primary concern was that emergency vehicles might not be able to get through.

City staff then talked with police, EMS and fire services in the City, who, according to Talifarro, concurred with the concerns.

Proposed reductions to affect neighborhoods with narrow streets

As the City designed its pilot changes, it specifically targeted narrow streets. Earlier this year, the City released recommendations for changes in street parking, which cut 1,886 total street parking spaces, including 867 from the Glencairn and Oakwood neighborhoods.

The plan also calls for the elimination of the one-sided street parking on Sunset Lane, where most of the meetings’ attendees reside. They opposed this idea fiercely, citing the lack of adequate driveways or anywhere else to park.

“I feel comfortable with some inconvenience,” Katie Robakiewicz said Thursday, referring to dealing with street parked cars. “I don’t need to drive easily, but I do need [to get to] my front door.”

The criticism built momentum as the meeting continued.

“It seems like you’re tricking us,” Caroline Andary said, noting she expected the year-long pilot to turn into a permanent change. “We live in East Lansing, we’re used to asinine parking rules,” she said later.

She and others advocated for an amended pilot during the MSU football season when, as the City claims, the problem is at its worst.

House and Talifarro said that snow and ice are other common conditions that cause the narrow passages they’re trying to address.

Further, House noted, to start a pilot centered around football season means installing the signs around this time of year.

Dan Campbell, a resident who didn’t do much talking, recognized aloud the importance of clear passage for emergency vehicles. No one could deny that. But had that really been a problem to date?

“Besides emergency vehicles, this is not really an issue,” he said.

In response to the outcry, DPW sent out a release Friday morning, stating that “On-street parking regulation changes initially scheduled to be implemented this month in areas of East Lansing will be delayed until mid-July to allow for additional time for public input and consideration of potential changes to the current Traffic Control Orders.”

Residents have the opportunity to submit online feedback that will be aggregated by City staff for consideration or come before Council in the interim period.

“Sometimes a solution creates a new problem,” Talifarro said at the meeting.

 

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