Permit program to relieve neighborhood congestion

News Reporter

Photo by: 

Some residents in neighborhoods near campus may experience relieved parking as a result of a recently approved permit program.

City councilmembers unanimously approved the establishment of a Residential Parking Permit Program in their Jan. 7 meeting. The need for the program arose from residents who expressed concern that students were parking their cars in neighborhoods and walking to campus. Under the new city council ordinance, residents can enact a permit program in their neighborhoods by gathering a “significant number” of signatures on a petition.

According to a Nov. 14 University Star article, the parking ordinance will not reserve individual parking spaces for residents. It will, however, allow officers to ticket parked vehicles lacking permits, regardless of their owners.

During the Jan. 7 meeting, Fire Marshal Ken Bell said each household will be granted a maximum of five parking permits, one per each resident. Bell said commercial vehicles weighing more than one ton may park in a neighborhood for up to 24 hours without a permit.

Councilman John Thomaides, Place 3, amended the original language of the ordinance during the same meeting. In the section of the ordinance describing how a neighborhood makes a request for a designated permit area, Thomaides inserted the words “with the assistance of city staff.”

“I want to make it very clear that (city) staff is to assist them to get this done,” Thomaides said.

He said the process of obtaining parking permits can be complicated and involves many steps, so city staff members can make things simpler by helping residents along the way.

The amendment was added to the ordinance with a unanimous vote.

Councilman Shane Scott, Place 6, asked Bell during the Jan. 7 meeting if the ordinance contained any language to prevent potential abuse from homeowners. Scott gave an example of a landlord illegally selling permits to college students.

Bell said the “beauty” of the ordinance was its language could be tweaked to stop parking permit abuse if it began to happen.

“We won’t have to come back in an emergency and change the law,” Bell said.

Nancy Nusbaum, interim director of Transportation Services at Texas State, said she brought up the issue of parking at a previous campus master plan review meeting.  Nusbaum said she is not taking a definitive stance on whether the residential permit program is a viable plan or not.

“I think it’s a decision that the city needs to make regarding the neighborhood,” Nusbaum said. “It was successful in other places, so I think it could be successful here.”

Nusbaum said an increase in university parking permit sales could be an outcome of the ordinance’s approval. It could convince more students to use the Bobcat Tram to get to class as well, she said.