Editor, The Guide:
I’m sure you’ve had your fill of responses to the article regarding Area 43 parking debacle but I owe Councilman Kraft a long over-due letter on the issue as well, and thought I would kill two birds with one stone. I’d like to point out that your article may have addressed the resident/business issues, but overlooked the big “screw you” it sent to the other residents living outside the zoned area.
My husband and I have lived in this area for several years and have dealt with the parking challenges it brings. We were appalled when we noticed the zoned parking signs go up within 100 feet of our house since, despite that fact that we are Canton residents, we do not qualify for a permit as we do not live in the exact block in which the signs are located.
I won’t bore you with the details of what that means to us on a daily basis, but it often involves schlepping an infant, two dogs and at least one bag of groceries several blocks. All because some “residents” in Area 43 couldn’t park in front of their house, or had trouble parking during “shift change” at the Can Company.
My husband and I are not just residents – we are home-owning, employed, tax-paying residents who chose this area to live and raise our family. And yet now, thanks to Area 43 and the ridiculous law that enabled it, I woke up last weekend to find a vehicle with D.C. plates – and an Area 43 visitor permit – parked directly in front of my house.
Apparently this non-resident has greater rights to park anywhere even close to my home, while I would have received a $52 ticket had I parked in front of the host’s residence. I’m assuming that visitor thoroughly enjoyed everything Canton has to offer – it didn’t move from Friday night until after I left for work on Monday.
This area has been a mixed residential/business community since it’s very inception, and Area 43 and any additional zoned areas pose a significant danger to the health and well-being of this community as a whole. People move here because it is a vibrant area within walking or easy commuting distance of so many amenities. It should come as no surprise to those people residing in Area 43, many of whom my husband and I have watched move in (and out, since many of those houses are used as rental properties), that they live close to an area that brings in business.
As soon as I saw the permit signs go up, I realized that it was the employees of the businesses who were the issue – and that no one had reached out to either the businesses or the community leaders to try to resolve the problem. One proposed solution to the debacle caused by Area 43, an increase in the zoned area, threatens to make it even more difficult to park.
An RPP spokesperson admitted at the meeting that there are already more permits than there are parking spots within the zoned area. So how far out will we be forced to go once the permit spots are taken? Four blocks? Six? Twelve? Or should we just consider a move to the county?
So as not to be considered a person of words but no action, I do have suggestions:
(1) The community leaders and businesses need to get together and develop a better plan. As far as I know, there are no incentives for people to take public transportation, bikes, carpool, etc. to work in the city, and I guarantee the majority of employees working at the Can Company and surrounding businesses live within the city limits or just outside.
(2) Zoned areas should not be permitted to have visitor permits. If you are not a resident you should have no greater right to the parking than anyone else.
(3) The definition of “resident” in the RPP code needs to be re-defined. Selfishly, I think it should be re-defined to include at least contiguous blocks, so that people aren’t precluded from parking within a reasonable distance from their front door.
(4) There needs to be more information about proposed parking changes; merely posting in the Daily Record is unacceptable and is not in the spirit of open government.
(5) Reconsider the restricted times, which should err on the side of being the least restrictive as possible. My husband noted one comment from the RPP folks, who said their study showed 70% of the vehicles parked during the day were non-residents. That is exactly the kind of thinking that could effectively kill off this area, and quick.
(6) Councilman Kraft should not endorse the current Area 43 as a permanent fixture. I’m not sure where they are in the six-month period, but there are better options than what has happened so far.
Canton has too much to offer for so few residents to affect the community as a whole. Like it or not, we are community – homeowners, tenants, and businesses alike – and have been since Canton was first put on the map. If you want to park in front of your house, find one with a driveway. Otherwise, suck it up and remember all the reasons you moved here to begin with.