Urban Services Committee reviews new plans, hears testimony on residential parking zones.

The Urban Services Committee reviewed a new plan from city staff and once again heard testimony regarding residential parking districts on Tuesday evening.

Following the Feb. 4 Urban Services Committee meeting, the committee asked city staff to come up with three alternative plans for the residential parking districts. The options were to stay with the existing plan, approve the new plan discussed in February, or adopt a new hybrid plan incorporating elements of the previous two.

"It is a long process by design," said Public Works Director Mary Steckel. "It's not to be entered in lightly."

The staff recommendation is in favor of the first proposed hybrid option, which would implement the parking permit system in the residential parking zones indicated in the February proposal, with the addition of two-hour limits in all of the districts. An estimated 75 percent of the street parking in these districts would be permit only, with the remaining open for free two-hour spaces.

While nothing is set in stone until a vote goes through to the City Council, Chief of Police Jon Sassaman mentioned problems of enforcement as the plan changes and time runs out. Parking enforcement officers need to be hired and trained in accordance to the districts that need specified enforcement.

"Initially, we are going to see a decline in tickets being issued," said chief of police Jon Sassaman.

At the last meeting, residents from all of the proposed districts were concerned with the lack of free parking, which could limit guests and restrict businesses. In oral and written testimony received until Feb. 25, the most frequent opinion was to create the districts without eliminating all of the free two-hour parking.

"We believe it will result in more available parking on the streets than is currently available in those districts," Steckel said. "We believe that is the best compromise."

Steckel also explained that there could be flexibility in the different districts according to those individual needs.

Another issue that received considerable testimony was OSU's culpability for the parking problems. Several people voiced a desire to see a collaborative effort from the city and OSU for a solution.

OSU aims to improve the shuttle services and distribute parking around campus with zone parking permits.

OSU is hosting public forums in the next few weeks, and will give a formal presentation to the City Council before an official plan will go into effect.

"We are going to promote carpooling, walking and biking," Clark said. "The goal is to de-emphasize the amount of traffic coming to campus."

Emma-Kate Schaake

City reporter


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