Butchers Hill votes down residential permit parking

Written by on August 13, 2014 in Neighborhood News - No comments

Butchers Hill residents engaged in spirited debate over residential permit parking last week. – Photo by Erik Zygmont

Like a prosecutor out of “Law and Order,” he yelled, he strutted, he got in peoples’ faces, he sneered at “uninformed” comments, and he threw back his suit jacket to put his hand on his hip for emphasis.

But in the end, Dr. Remington Nevin did not convince Butchers Hill residents to move forward on his committee’s residential permit parking proposal.

The Butchers Hill Association decided–55-26 with six abstentions–not to initiate expanding Residential Permit Parking Area 17, which is currently in effect 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on E. Fairmount Ave. between Chester and Washington streets, as well as areas outside of Butchers Hill boundaries.

For his part, Nevin accepted the defeat graciously, stating, “Strong neighborhood support or opposition is a good thing, because it shows we can come to a consensus.”

He added that there were “no hard feelings.”

Nevin chairs an ad hoc committee that–at the request of the BHA executive board–continues to analyze neighborhood parking concerns and explore solutions.

“I don’t want you to assume that permit parking is the only thing we’ve been talking about,” Nevin told residents prior to the debate.

Establishing residential permit parking, however, requires substantial lead time, Nevin explained, so his committee prioritized it.

Residents disagreed with the residential permit parking proposal on several fronts. It was mentioned several times that the push for permit parking was a response to the Jefferson Square apartment development nearing completion on the western border of Butchers Hill.

“What brought this up was the anticipation of Jefferson Square,” explained Barry Glassman, also heavily involved with the parking committee. “We’re anticipating 500 people coming in.”

Resident Andrew Crummey said that he felt the push for permit parking was premature.

“We could just wait and find out three months from now,” he said, adding that, should Jefferson Square be a big problem for the neighborhood, then “Guess what, this whole room is on board [with permit parking].”

Some residents took issue with the daytime restriction. Cory McCarty noted that his commitment as a firefighter sometimes results in him getting home at late-night hours. He lives just outside of what would have been the permit parking zone, and he argued that he would lose some already rare late-night parking options, as he would be unprepared to get up and move his car the mornings after those late nights.

“What I’m asking of you is don’t make it worse for us,” he said. “Those of us who live outside [the zone] and work odd hours–you’re going to make it worse for us.”

McCarty’s comment alluded to a concern expressed by other residents, that the proposal included only the portion of Butchers Hill in City Councilman Warren Branch’s district, and left out the portion under the governance of City Councilman Jim Kraft, who has gone on record stating his general opposition to residential permit parking.

“You’re creating a situation where some of our neighbors will have RPP [residential permit parking] and some will not,” said Kevin Litten.

Despite the drubbing in the vote itself, the ad hoc parking committee received a standing ovation for its work.

Though it wasn’t the big-ticket item on last Wednesday’s agenda, Nevin did announce that, in addition to the residential permit parking proposal, his committee had also released a proposal for reconfiguring reverse-angle parking in the neighborhood.

“We’ve been able to identify 38 extra spots in the neighborhood,” he said.

Per the proposal, available at butchershill.org, the committee has identified three full-size spaces and 35 spaces “for smaller cars” no larger than 5 1/2 feet wide and 15 1/2 feet long.

“The ad hoc committee further believes that each and every new parking space identified constitutes a critical and necessary improvement to our neighborhood residents’ quality of life,” writes Nevin in the proposal.

“Remington did an amazing job of going over every inch in those blocks with reverse-angle parking,” commented resident Sandra Sales.

The committee is also exploring the idea of gaining more parking spots by reconfiguring parallel-parking in the neighborhood, Nevin said. Additionally, it is looking at convincing the city to allow those with garages and parking pads to park on the street in front of their own curb cuts, he added. If anyone with a garage owns a second car, it could be parked in front of the curb cut rather than in a traditional space, freeing up more spaces for those residents without off-street parking.

The parking committee’s next meeting is Wednesday, Aug. 13, 7:30 p.m., at 2000 E. Pratt St. Nevin, the chair, may be reached at 410-428-6991, or rnevin@jhsph.edu.

by Erik Zygmont

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