DOWNEY - Residents who struggle with limited street parking may have recourse after the City Council on Tuesday agreed to establish preferential parking districts in qualifying neighborhoods.The goal of the program is to alleviate crowded street parking where most of the parked vehicles belong to non-residents. Parking would be restricted on certain streets except for vehicles displaying a city-issued permit. However, it remains to be seen how many parking districts will actually be created due to a strict list of prerequisites, not the least of which is a $5,000 deposit to initiate the process. Councilman David Gafin said the purpose of the preferential parking district, as approved Tuesday, was to "get it on the books" in case it becomes necessary in the future. In addition to the deposit, a survey would need to reveal that at least 75% of on-street parking spaces within the proposed district are occupied during the requested parking prohibition; a minimum 50% of the vehicles parked on the street are registered to non-Downey residents; and a determination by a city traffic engineer that the parking problem would not simply spill over to an adjacent neighborhood. There are additional restrictions as well. Councilman David Gafin said the program was purposely created with strict guidelines to limit the number of parking districts throughout the city. "We want the emphasis to be on dealing with non-residents, not neighbor versus neighbor," Gafin said. Once approved for a preferential parking district, households could apply for two residential parking permits, plus one guest permit, at an estimated price of $45 per year. The City Council is expected to finalize the fee structure at a later date. Council members registered their support for the program, although Mayor Luis Marquez and Councilman Fernando Vasquez said the $5,000 deposit could discourage neighborhoods from applying. Public works director John Oskoui said the fee was necessary due to staff time involved. "There will be considerable staff time expended in responding to and investigating requests for residential preferential parking districts, including time spent verifying the validity of petition signers, generating GIS maps and estimating available parking, conducting traffic surveys, determining the residency status of parked vehicles, photographing current conditions, and composing resolutions and noticing public hearings if the establishment of a district is recommended and the procurement and installation of the parking restriction or prohibition signs," Oskoui wrote in a report to the council.
********** Published: May 26, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 6