Butchers Hill set to vote on permit parking next Wednesday

Written by on July 30, 2014 in Neighborhood News - No comments

Residential permit parking: yes or no?

The Butchers Hill Association will ask its membership to answer this preliminary question—the first in a series of decisions and approvals necessary for establishing residential permit parking—at its monthly meeting next Wednesday, Aug. 6, 7 p.m., at St. Andrew’s Orthodox Church, Lombard and S. Chester streets.

If the answer is yes, then the association would simultaneously take three courses of action with the overall goal of establishing residential permit parking roughly from the south side of Lombard St. north to—but not including—Fayette St., and from Wolfe St. to the east side of Chester St.

Why three courses of action to establish one area?

Some parts of the area can be made RPP with the traditional process of obtaining residents’ signatures; other parts would require District 13 City Councilman Warren Branch to introduce legislation; other parts fall outside of Butchers Hill boundaries and would require the support of other communities.

All of this is described in detail in a complete RPP proposal created by an ad hoc committee which, at the suggestion of the Butchers Hill Association’s executive committee, has been working on parking matters since March.

Dr. Remington Nevin, chair of the ad hoc committee, emphasizes that Butchers Hill Association members have the power to accept or reject the proposal.

“Although the RPP proposal is in some ways similar to the Rotunda proposal that has been making the news recently, we are very proud that we are adopting a very different strategy to its adoption, by making this proposal contingent both on the support of the general membership, and block-by-block approval in the affected areas,” wrote Nevin in an email, referring to an apparently controversial RPP proposal put forward for Hampden by City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke.

The Butchers Hill proposal is available at butchershill.org.

Beth Braun, president of the Butchers Hill Association, said that at its June meeting, the association’s executive committee voted to support the proposal, and is looking forward to the presentation and the ensuing discussion at next week’s meeting.

“We are grateful for the hard work, thorough research, and innovative thinking of the committee, led by Dr. Remington Nevin,” said Braun.

Though Butchers Hill is in both City Council Districts 1 and 13, the proposal focuses on District 13, as Councilman Warren Branch, according to the ad hoc committee, was found “to be highly receptive to considering novel RPP options for addressing parking challenges in his district.”

District 1’s Councilman Jim Kraft, by contrast, stated at a Q and A session in June that he would not support expanding RPP in Butchers Hill. Kraft, who abolished permit parking in Canton and issued a five-year moratorium on the practice in that neighborhood, likened RPP to “squeezing a balloon,” in which the parking problem is just foisted onto the areas outside the zone.

Butchers Hill has considered RPP in the past; a few years ago, according to the Parking Authority’s Steve Robinson, a bid to establish permit parking throughout the neighborhood failed when the Parking Authority could not verify that 60 percent of affected residents had signed in favor of the move.

Robinson related the story this January, when he presented on the ins and outs of permit parking to the Butchers Hill Association in response to renewed interest in RPP.

While RPP was rejected several years ago, the ad hoc committee notes in their most recent proposal that “significant changes have further altered the parking landscape in Butchers Hill” since then.

“Chief among these include the imminent opening of the highly anticipated 500+ unit Jefferson Square apartment and retail development in the area immediately adjacent to Butchers Hill, and the recent opening of the new Johns Hopkins hospital expansion and adjacent biotech park, whose employment base has continued to add to daytime parking pressures,” states the proposal.

The Butchers Hill proposal would apply to daytime hours, limiting non-permit holders to two-hour parking from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The committee notes that the daytime restrictions have the “somewhat counterintuitive effect of resulting in significant availability of parking well into the early evening hours.”

RPP Area 17, which within Butchers Hill covers only the south side of E. Fairmount St. between Washington and Chester streets, imposes daytime restrictions identical to the above. In the RPP proposal, the ad hoc committee observes that “the RPP blockface is completely devoid of cars at 4 p.m.,” giving residents a “toehold” for overnight parking without imposing overnight restrictions.

In Area 17, residents purchase permits that allow them unrestricted parking for $20 every year. Each address may have up to four permits, plus one guest pass.

Should Butchers Hill vote in favor of the proposal, the association will ask the Parking Authority to initiate the petitioning process on residential block faces to expand Area 17 within the neighborhood.

Simultaneously, the association would support other communities should they decide to adopt Area 17 for connected areas outside of Butchers Hill boundaries that would be affected by the Jefferson Square Development.

Finally, but also at the same time, the association would work with Branch’s office to request that the councilman introduce legislation to create RPP on non-rowhome blockfaces within the scope of the proposal. This action would include blockfaces of the Jefferson Square development, the residents of which would not be eligible for permits, according to the proposal.

The proposal speculates that the move would support the interests of the developers of Jefferson Square, as it would be an incentive for the future residents of the development to pay to use of the facility’s onsite parking garage.

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