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Thread: Managing on-street vs. off-street parking in areas w/ small lots and narrow roads

  1. #1
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    Managing on-street vs. off-street parking in areas w/ small lots and narrow roads

    Hello All,

    I'm a planner for a small dense town (2 sqmi; 7,000 pop). A long-term major off-street and on-street residential parking problem has been identified here. I'm hoping to get some input from others on related experiences and/or solutions for mitigating these problems either through zoning bylaws or on-street parking policy.

    Context
    The town is almost completely built-out in the residential neighborhoods. The housing stock is pretty old (late 19th century) and many of the residential areas, when developed, did not account for families with 3-4 cars per household. Over time, this shortage has been exacerbated by many large houses being converted from single-family units to multi-family units.

    This outcome has led to a long-term culture of either (a.) parking in the R-O-W greenbelt (the area between the sidewalk and the road) or (b.) parking on the front yard in the grassed area. As consequence we have greenbelts that are significantly damaged (e.g., graveled or paved w/o permission, or full of muddy ruts) or front yards cluttered with parked cars, mud, and ruts. Most of the roads that this occurs on are between 17' and 25' wide and two-way, thus it is somewhat tight for two-way traffic plus one-sided parking. Many residents are of the opinion that on-street parking is unsafe and would likely get their parked car hit, and are therefore very adament about parking in the greenbelt or front yard. Many residents and officials feel that this is a major aesthetic issue, but we are finding it hard to resolve.

    Question
    Does anyone have related experiences?
    Is it unreasonable to tell residents that they are prohibited from parking in the R-O-W greenbelt and that they must park fully on the road?
    Is it unreasonable to tell people that don't have room in their driveway for all of their vehicles that they can't park in their front yard?

    I feel like many residents are in denial of the fact that this isn't the suburbs and people are going to have to park on the street. It's amazing how pissed-off people get about parking.

    Thanks for any words of advice.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Kingmak's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2009
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    Texas
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    Well it looks like the problem is allowing multi-family in an area that doesn't have the capacity (parking) for it. Sure people will be upset that they can't park in the yard, or on the street. What about rear yard parking? People won't rent where they can't park their cars. Keep that in mind when prohibiting parking and if that would be a solution to do some clean-up work (parking requirement-wise).
    "The first rule of sustainability is to align with natural forces, or at least not try to defy them." - Paul Hawken

  3. #3
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Feb 2002
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    Michigan
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    3,173
    Quote Originally posted by Brad.L View post
    Is it unreasonable to tell residents that they are prohibited from parking in the R-O-W greenbelt and that they must park fully on the road?
    Is it unreasonable to tell people that don't have room in their driveway for all of their vehicles that they can't park in their front yard?
    No, neither are unreasonable. Our ordinance only allows for cars to be parked on an improved surface in the front yard, and further limits the amount of improved surface in the front yard to 40% of the front yard. Turnabouts are allowed, but only on private property (so we don't allow parking in the curb lawn). Even if on a driveway, a parked car can't block the sidewalk. I take it you do not currently have any regulations against parking in the front yard or curb lawn. You're right, this is a hot issue. I think you do have to take into consideration that families typically are having more vehicles, but not allow a free for all approach. I'm not sure if you can limit the number of vehicles on a property, providing they could all be legally parked? I would try to figure out what is a reasonable number of cars to park on a property, and how you want them parked (improved vs unimproved, front vs back, etc.). Once you have an idea of how you would want to regulate it, review the neighborhood to see if it's feasible. You wouldn't want to encourage regulations that essentially prohibit the ability of most of the residents to park more than one car on their lot, for example.

    Quote Originally posted by Brad.L
    Many residents are of the opinion that on-street parking is unsafe and would likely get their parked car hit, and are therefore very adament about parking in the greenbelt or front yard. Many residents and officials feel that this is a major aesthetic issue, but we are finding it hard to resolve.
    Not only is this an aesthetic issue, but in my opinion, parking on the curblawn is much more dangerous than parking on the street, especially if there are people still parking on the street. Vehicular circulation (getting into and out of the different parking spots) is a nightmare, and I would think visibility would be greatly impaired.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Aug 2001
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    The Cheese State
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    I agree that one of the biggest problems seems to be allowing higher density by converting homes into multiple residences. I would think one easy sell would be to require any new conversions to demonstrate that they have adequate parking available on the property.

    Your issue may be even more complicated if the village has granted premission to people to use the ROW greenspace for parking. It would be difficult to now institute a policy to disallow that, and even more dicey to try to rescind it. One approach, as has been suggested, is to allow the public greenway and front yard to be used (up to a certain percentage) and no to allow cars blocking the sidewalk. This is what you will find in most communities. You might also consider some combination of one-way streets and angled parking, depending on road networks, dimensions, etc. Still another thought is to provide small parking areas in the neighborhoods, much the same as might be done in a subdivision, provided that land is available.
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Eastern Canada
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    From a practical POV, parking on a grassed area is TERRIBLE for your car. All that moisture underneath will quickly rust your car out. I refuse to buy a used car if I see the owner has been keeping it on their lawn. Just a thought for when talking to difficult residents...

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