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Why are some neighborhoods able to dictate who can and can't park on city owned streets? Of course, parking laws should be enforced, but this smacks of elitism. I pay Austin city taxes and should be able to park anywhere I please. Why do some neighborhoods get special perks?
Having worked near South Congress Avenue for years and watching the way the growth and popularity of the area evolved, I can understand why its needed in some areas. A lot of the people that own homes on the side streets a block or two off SoCo used to be able to park on their streets with no problem. As the are became more popular and store after store along Congress was converted into clubs and restaurants, which attract a lot more visitors then the previous stores did, the overflow parking invaded the adjacent residential areas. Many of those older houses were not built with two car garages and driveways, some without even a driveway. So the owners rely more on the street for parking.
I have to side with the residential property owners in the area. Their right to park near the homes they pay taxes on, supersedes the rights of visitors to the area to park in those same places.
There are numerous business along SoCo that provide few or no parking spaces for customers. The problem really is a result of the City allowing the businesses along Congress to convert to business which attract a higher volume of traffic, but the City was slow in catching on to the need to require that the businesses provide parking lots with spaces adequate to accommodate their businesses.
The City has started requiring businesses in the are to go in together to provide public parking lots, but as usual that effort is behind the growth curve.
I don't think they are elitist, I think they are entitled.
The last time we had permitted work done on our house, we had to prove to the City that we still had a garage or other place to park on our property. Many of the houses in Soco or other inner city neighborhoods have chosen to expand by taking over every inch of their property for living space and park on the curb. That's certainly within their rights to do so, but forcing the government to set aside city land for their convenience is not within their rights, in my opinion.
Recent arrivals to areas such as Soco should not expect to be bailed out for parking. Isn't that why they move there? For the urban lifestyle? Plenty of parking in the suburbs.
I happen to agree with the homeowners in this instance. It would be very frustrating not to be able to find a place to park near your own house because there were so many visitors. And while we can say, "Well, they should have a driveway," we can also say to the visitors, "You should park in a garage downtown and take the bus to SoCo." But of course, we have a majority culture in Austin that feels entitled to drive everywhere.
If forced to choose between homeowners not being able to find a space near their own house and visitors having to walk a few extra blocks or take public transportation, the answer seems pretty clear to me.
I'm mostly on the side of the residents but they have to prove an ongoing issue with the out-of-neighborhood parkers. They have events like First Thursday that attract more people and cars than the area was meant to handle. Also some of the guest parkers don't do quite such a good job and block or partially block driveways or park too close to intersections.
It's sad that it's come to this. It's not like having a hard time finding on-street parking at some times is something new to Austin - anyone who's ever lived near UT can tell you that, it's been that way as long as I've been in Austin (a little over 40 years). It's been dealt with by individuals for all that time without the necessity for handing over public property to a small subset of citizens.
What's different is a sense of entitlement and a desire for legislation to solve the most minor of problems for us and make other people give us what we consider our due. And, of course, people from places where that attitude is perfectly normal coming here and expecting it.
A comparable situation exists just north of UT Campus, in the are near Pease Park, and I don't think they have any sort of parking restrictions. They might have added some, I don't know, but I always felt a bad for the people in that neighborhood, not because they couldn't park in the streets themselves, but because the streets became so congested during school hours, and especially so during football games.
Back in the '80s when our neighborhood's Northland Little League was allowed to build several baseball fields on land owned by Louis Henna fronting on I-35 in North Austin, everybody parked on the side street running eastward. We parked there for several seasons.
It is now the location of the Henna Chevy dealership.
When Old San Francisco Steakhouse was built on the south side of the public street, they got the city to designate that same parking on both sides as "valet parking only"....and booted us out.
I have lots of problems with this and mixed feelings both ways for the same reasons people have listed on here. CoA is partly to blame as are the residents and the businesses. First, many of the businesses in austin are located in former residences with little or no parking of their own and must rely on curbside parking on main thorough fares as well as residential areas. In addition, even those old established businesses like allens boots, lucy in disguise, etc. Never anticipated all the growth austins had in the last twenty years so they didnt secure new land for their patrons to park. They are probably glad for the business but there just isnt space for all the customers and window shoppers that frequent the area. Secondly, CoA has allowed businesses to take over city streets as valet parking esp DT. I think that is wrong. If i get to the spot first i should have dibbs. Likewise, residents are simply trying to secure parking for themselves and family, so they arent doing anything businesses havent done in the past. This has always been a problem in austin. Anybody remember what parking was like for the trail of lights, aquafest, free concerts on town lake, going to ut before they built the parking garages, etc. Perhaps a solution would be to get rid of all the food trailers on the east side of congress and build a giant parking garage? I mean they are just food trailers and it would be on the east side anyway.
It is a contentious issue even among residents, residents do have to prove that there is a real issue with non-residents monopolizing the space, permits will apply in just a very small area, and then the worry is that the traffic and parked cars will just spread further into the area, inconveniencing other neighbors.
There are parts of Rosedale (near the medical offices) where there has been a system of residential permits for street parking for some time. The residents end up policing each other and calling the cops in for violations, some people ignore it, others take on an unpaid second job as parking permit enforcers. It certainly doesn't promote neighborliness.
Long term, research suggests that when you make cars a hassle to drive, bike and foot traffic increase. I live close enough to Soco to walk but it is a long walk. When there was ample parking, I always drove, now we tend to walk, park in a few "secret" spots we know of, or call friends who live within a block of Congress and ask to park in their driveway. Pedicabs or taxi cabs from downtown will become more prevalent in the area over time.
The problem is worst in Bouldin on the west side of Congress. Those are small houses, nearly all without garages, some with short driveways, and some with no driveways and just alley access. First Thursday, never mind SXSW or ACL completely overwhelm the area.
Some merchants have build parking garages (like the one behind Guerros) and they wanted to build it even bigger, but neighbors fought against the extra height.
If it matters, the areas that receive permission to do residential permits will be very very small. Opposition from other neighbors will see to that.
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