Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

residential parking permits

7. December 2006 • Bruce Fields
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From a reader:

As of yesterday the north end of North Ashley Street has now been converted to resident permit parking. For non-residents (and residents without permits) parking is limited to two hours or less on the west side on Tuesday and Thursday, and two hours or less on the east on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. As far as I can tell this only applies to the 500 block of North Ashley.

And since I own a house on the block I knew it was in the works, but I hadn’t heard any updates since last summer when some neighbors asked for my support of the district, which, being opposed on principle to resident only parking, I couldn’t offer. So I was kind of surprised when the signs just popped up without any warning. Did I miss some sort of public notice?



  1. This was on Monday’s City Council agenda item CA-2. So technically it was publicized since those agendas are made public. Eleven of the 15 households in the area approved it. As I recall, this addition to the residential parking district is primarily in response to the Kingsley Lane development and was very much supported by Peter Allen as a sign of what a good neighbor he plans to be (and also allowing a bit more parking for his residents, eight of whom would be eligible for a residential parking permit).


       —Juliew    Dec. 7 '06 - 10:23PM    #
  2. Oh, joy. Another one. Problem solved, right?

    Gee, I wonder if this is the last area that will get them?

    Do you think that if I ask Council nicely I can get a block of permit only parking on Main Street in front of my bar?

    I mean, why not? That stretch of Main St. is mine, isn’t it?


       —todd    Dec. 7 '06 - 11:30PM    #
  3. Well it does solve a problem, which is how to provide a fairer way to share a limited resource. Those of us who live close enough to downtown or campus have found that the on-street parking is often monopolized all day by people who arrive in the early morning and leave in the late afternoon while working or going to school. It’s not that the residents own the curb but are given a fair shot at using it.


       —Terence    Dec. 7 '06 - 11:42PM    #
  4. “Well it does solve a problem, which is how to provide a fairer way to share a limited resource. “

    This is a pretty myopic view of these parking spaces.

    A few questions:

    1. Why should you have access to these spots, while those who commute do not? Do not the businesses that they visit or work at pay taxes as well? I’ll answer that: yes, they do, and at a much higher rate than homeowners.

    2. You say that residents should get a fair shot at using it. If it were a “fair” shot, then anyone would be able to obtain a permit, including those who you say “arrive early in the morning and leave in the late afternoon while working or going to school.”

    According to the City of Ann Arbor Website, Residential Parking Permits will only be issued “to applicants living in the affected area.” Again, another myopic statement. We are all living/working in the “affected area”, despite all statements to the contrary.

    How many students would fall all over themselves for a guaranteed space in downtown Ann Arbor at $45 per year? Or heck, how many business would love to have their staffs have nearly free parking?

    3. Does this program run at a loss, like the last one enacted does? Certainly not fair if that’s the case.

    Terence, you may have missed my posts on this subject previously, but the biggest reason that I hate these RPP’s is that it takes a long-temr problem that affects all downtown residents (parking) and shrugs its shoulders and says “screw it, let’s just take care of those who complain the most. We don’t care about the other groups”. Hardly fair.

    It’s another one of those “tip of the iceberg” symptoms of larger Urban Planning problems that many in this town seem to think that they can just ignore and they’ll all just go away…..or worse, they figure that if their personal needs are taken care of, then that’s all that matters.


       —todd    Dec. 8 '06 - 12:19AM    #
  5. Alternate side parking by the day? Where are we, NYC?

    My street has residential permit parking, and I am Not A Fan. When we were house-hunting, it was worrisome – “okay, so we have the seller’s realtor, our buyer’s agent, and us – whose car gets to risk the ticket?”

    Terence’s concern, “who gets to park curbside?” is reasonable. And I do think that the OWS solution is decent – permit-controlled on one side, open on the other. But you’re always going to have lines, where you can jump back and forth from one sidewalk tile to the next and be in or out of the parking district. So I’m “out” and I park in front of my neighbor’s house, because there’s no parking spot open on my block. A one-side system allows me a reasonable chance of parking on the next block down, but an alternate side solution? You want to force me to use my car daily just because I live on the wrong block? Remember that a cold engine produces much more pollution than a warm one – if I have to move my car back and forth every day, I’m spitting up that air pollution that David Cahill’s so concerned about even if I’m not going anywhere.


       —Murph.    Dec. 8 '06 - 12:30AM    #
  6. “... on-street parking is often monopolized all day by people who arrive in the early morning and leave in the late afternoon while working or going to school.”

    I’m puzzling through how this is unfair to residents (or anyone else). Is it that residents are leaving even earlier in the morning in their own cars, which were parked on the street (leaving the spaces that are taken by the Terence’s monopolizers), then returning to find they have no parking space? Or are we talking about a resident who works evenings and returns in the morning to find that a day-worker or day-studier has taken the space? Or is it just that street parking as a resource is theoretically conceived as more like ‘temporary’ parking?

    In any case, the parking public meeting last night apparently had 40 people show up on a crappy night. The fact box with some raw numbers from the print edition doesn’t seem to be included in the Mlive version, so here it is:

    Downtown parking spaces
    On street: 1063
    Off street: 4647

    Ocupancy, on-street
    68% weekday
    98% weeknight
    100% Friday night

    Occupancy, off-street
    84% weekday
    35% weeknight
    47% Friday night

    And in previewing this post I notice that the above MLive link doesn’t actually go to the specific article … and I’m not sure why.

    [link fixed--ed.]
       —HD    Dec. 8 '06 - 12:37AM    #
  7. We had a very informative and lengthy discussion on Residential Permit programs a while back. It is worth skimming through to get the basic arguments for and against RPPs.

    I think that discussion pretty clearly limits the fairness claim for RPPs by showing that RPPs reduce the overall parking supply and require subsidy to function. As I see it, the reasoning for RPPs is not derived from an implicitly unfair parking system. I’m not sure how one justifies living right next to downtown, then complaining that people driving downtown are parking on your street. However, I also don’t understand how Easy Street residents can enjoy the benefits of living in a city with an extensive pedestrian infrastructure and then opt out of contributing to it.

    I think Easy Street sidewalks and RPPs both demonstrate how many decisions are based far more on political logic than on technical requirements. Ann Arbor continues to be a city of neighborhoods where it is considerer inappropriate to shove anything down a neighborhood’s throat, even if it is an obvious benefit to the city as a whole.

    I’d also point out that the RPP ordinance requires 16 block faces for a new RPP. North Ashley’s approval follows a general trend to allow new RPPs as exceptions to that requirement. I believe the last 3 new RPPs were exceptions in this respect.

    “I do think that the OWS solution is decent – permit-controlled on one side, open on the other.”
    I’m suprised to read Murph’s moderate stance on this issue considering his previous claim that driveways are a private appropriation of the public realm.


       —Scott TenBrink    Dec. 8 '06 - 05:13AM    #
  8. Scott – if people are going to demand residential permit parking, I can at least favor some solutions as more reasonable than others. Of the systems that have been set up in Ann Arbor, I think the single-side method in the OWS is the most reasonable, for being the least restrictive of public use of the public streets. For the reasons you mention – subsidizing the creation of a private monopoly on a public good (er, more accurately a publicly created common pool resource) is still distasteful to me, especially when, as is the case with an alternate-side-by-day method, the system seems created to set up “gotchas”, where interlopers can be ticketed for parking where they did yesterday. There are already systems in place providing for snow emergencies, street cleaning, and other occasions when city vehicles need to get to the curb; setting up a residential permit parking system this way doesn’t seem anything but punitive.

    Why do you have to push my vitriol buttons, anyways? :)


       —Murph.    Dec. 8 '06 - 01:19PM    #
  9. I think it’s a waste of bandwidth to re-argue a well-established and popular City program.

    In areas of extremely high car density because they are heavily impacted by student apartments and/or commuters, you are going to see residential parking programs.

    City Council is the group which decides how the scarce public resource of on-street parking is to be allocated. What would others prefer? Duels?


       —David Cahill    Dec. 9 '06 - 02:33PM    #
  10. “What would others prefer? Duels?”

    Market pricing?


       —Bruce Fields    Dec. 9 '06 - 04:56PM    #
  11. “In areas of extremely high car density because they are heavily impacted by student apartments and/or commuters, you are going to see residential parking programs.”

    Exhibit A as to how a handful of downtown homeowners who, mind you, are full grown adults, are completely unable to understand that they are the reason that the RPP’s are needed.

    Who does the complaining? The homeowners. Who is the cause of the problem? Let me spell it out: the homeowners have purchased homes that do not have parking spaces or garages of their own. These homeowners are the problem, as least as it has been connected to the enacted solution.

    Now before you say “well, the students and commuters are at least part of the problem”, ask yourself why don’t the commuters and students complain and get their own parking plan too? They, therefore, are not the problem.

    In other words, the “problem” in the view of Council and the RP program isn’t that multiple users are parking on the streets. The “problem” is that homeowners who do not provide their own parking aren’t “getting theirs”.

    So, naturally, we can’t have homeowners who have to interact with the rest of the community and come up with solutions that are in the best interest of the city as a whole.

    So yeah, Dave, it’s a “wildly successful” program. Council doesn’t have to listen to a bunch of complaints, and no one has to raise a finger to try and come up with a solution that (god forbid) addresses the larger urban planning issues that leads to the parking “shortfall” to begin with. After all, commuters, businesses and students have no right to use the streets in Ann Arbor, right?

    Of course, no one bothers to ask: what happened to the cars that are no longer welcome in these areas? Did they move a block away? Did that push another set of cars yet another block away? What effect does this have on local business? Is giving these lucky homeowners four (!!) full parking spaces pushing up the value of their homes? What does that do to affordability? What about the downtown homeowners who were stupid enough to have paid a premium for a home with on site parking? How many more of these resident-only parking areas will the City have? Ten? Twenty? At what point do we look at the underlying issues?

    Of course, no one cares about the answers to these questions. Why? Because as Terence noted, the problem is solved. So long as the homeowners get theirs, who cares?

    Sweet.


       —todd    Dec. 9 '06 - 05:40PM    #
  12. Market pricing

    One planner whom I know suggested that every parking space in the city be given a unique id. Then the City can have a continuous, instant auction on parking spaces – the highest bidder at any given time for a particular space gets the rights to that space. In an emergency and don’t have a place to park? Dial up the automated parking auction hotline and pay $25 in order to turn that loading zone over there into your personal parking spot for the day! Have houseguests coming for a few days? Buy rights to the spaces in front of your house! It’s winter and you’re sick of walking several blocks from your parking space to your office? Buy rights to a closer space!

    Rather than marking handicap-only parking spaces, we can give anybody with a valid tag a 50% discount on the auction; maybe we give city residents a 25% discount over non-residents.


       —Murph.    Dec. 9 '06 - 05:51PM    #
  13. I have an unusual perspective on residential parking. On Broadway we are impacted by students/commuters during the day; the street is completely parked up. However, we residents don’t mind because everyone has adequate off-street parking.

    Also, I was a commuter who parked on North Felch when I was commuting to Lansing, 1981-1992. I was a member of one of the longest-running car pools in existence: a bunch of people who mostly worked for the state government in Lansing. Four or five cars would gather at Ashley and Felch every weekday at 7:45. We would return around 6:15. Once a resident asked us not to take up on-street parking. We pointed out that the street was available to everyone.

    Todd says homeowners complain because they don’t have parking spaces or garages of their own. Is this true in Burns Park and/or the Old West Side? Has anyone done a survey?


       —David Cahill    Dec. 9 '06 - 11:38PM    #
  14. “Todd says homeowners complain because they don’t have parking spaces or garages of their own. Is this true in Burns Park and/or the Old West Side? Has anyone done a survey?”

    Well, if these homeowners are complaining and they have parking spaces and garages of their own…..that’s mighty impressive.

    Your situation around Broadway speaks to my point. You and your neighbors have “adequate off-street parking”....and strangely enough, you don’t ask for an RPP even though commuters and students park in the street. Hey, how about that.

    I sincerely hope that your attitude “that the street is available to everyone” makes it way through the rest of the town before this RPP nonsense gets out of control.

    These homeowner’s complaints are valid. The solution that we have enacted is not.


       —todd    Dec. 10 '06 - 01:08AM    #
  15. One more factor may be that on Broadway nobody parks on the street at night; it’s empty. I gather that this is not so in the RPP areas.


       —David Cahill    Dec. 10 '06 - 02:30PM    #
  16. way back when, i commented

    i think the RPP program is misunderstood. its purpose is not to provide parking spaces for the residents. the purpose of the RPP program is to provide parking spaces for the residents’ plumber, sister, carpet cleaner, hello faz, DHL, etc.

    i still think so.


       —peter honeyman    Dec. 10 '06 - 03:42PM    #
  17. But of course, it’s not. This could be solved EASILY by designating 1 or 2 spaces per block face as 2-hour parking, rather than eliminating outsider parking for the whole block.


       —Dale    Dec. 10 '06 - 06:10PM    #
  18. “way back when, i commented

    i think the RPP program is misunderstood. its purpose is not to provide parking spaces for the residents. the purpose of the RPP program is to provide parking spaces for the residents’ plumber, sister, carpet cleaner, hello faz, DHL, etc.

    i still think so.”

    For one thing, Faz and DHL double park, and are gone in seconds.

    And how do you explain that the RPP’s allow for four passes per residence? These homeowners eat a lot of pizza or have the worst plumbing problems in the world??

    In any case, parking for a resident’s services or relatives is still parking for the residents.

    Your explanation is like saying that my business parking isn’t for me: it’s for my customers. That makes zero sense, and if you RPP my parking spaces for my business use, the end result is that I’m either taking up the spaces for customers, or the spaces are vacant and cannot be used by anyone but extremely short term users.

    The end result is the same, no matter how you want to label it.

    And I find it hard to believe that you’ll find more than a handful of instances where a homeowner or renter in an RPP area doesn’t register their own car.


       —todd    Dec. 10 '06 - 06:12PM    #
  19. You’re probably both right. The most common need probably is for visitors, but the residential parking permit program certainly doesn’t look like it was designed to meet that need. Probably it’s survived because in practice it manages to solve the problem anyway, at least for the majority of residents, and because it also caters to people’s desire to keep non-residents off “their” street.

    But maybe it would be possible to design something almost as popular that was more narrowly targetted at that particular problem.


       —Bruce Fields    Dec. 10 '06 - 07:28PM    #
  20. dale, on the OWS, where street sides alternate between two-hour and all day parking, the all day sides are full while the two-hour sides are half full. (unscientific observation.) this leaves enough space for the diaper service; it does not “eliminate outsider parking altogether” — not by half.

    todd, i don’t have to “explain that the RPP allows for four passes per residence”, because the homeowners abjure the passes. you may “find it hard to believe”, but the numbers were posted in the discussion last may, to which i refer you.


       —peter honeyman    Dec. 10 '06 - 07:31PM    #
  21. So if nobody bothers to buy permits, then in practice it’s just a program that reserves half the street for temporary parking. And we can think of the actual residential parking permit part of the program as just something to sell the idea to the neighbors, and something the rest of us should just roll our eyes at and ignore.

    Though I’ll still say that access to parking spaces should be sold at market rates. And if it turns out that’s not enough to pay for the costs of administering the sale, then we’ve just shown that when faced with the full costs of a “solution” it turns out that people would rather just live with the status quo, and that the supposed “parking problem” was just a bunch of whining.

    But what do I know, I don’t park.


       —Bruce Fields    Dec. 10 '06 - 08:12PM    #
  22. Terrific. They abjure from taking all four passes. Then let’s drop the max allowed. That still doesn’t mean that everyone but residents are denied access to these spaces for even short term (>2hr. parking). These friends or workers can’t get the passes without the homeowners help.

    You’re splitting hairs here. It is completely irrelevant as to whether a resident or their friends/servicepersons are using these passes. It is also irrelevant if homeowners do not use the maximum number of passes.

    The only thing that is relevant is who can’t get these passes…..i.e., anyone but the area’s homeowners.


       —todd    Dec. 10 '06 - 08:14PM    #
  23. todd, you’re still not getting the picture. it’s not about the passes. it’s about the availability of short-term parking, vital in a residential neighborood.

    without the RPP, a neighborhod too close to a commuter area is strangled by all-day parkers and loses access to the services of the milk man, plumber, pizza guy, baby sitter, etc.

    that’s my theory, anyway. it is based on the (unverified and perhaps poorly recalled) report that very few passes are actually purchased. but, like bruce, i am a parking theoretician, not a parking practitioner.


       —peter honeyman    Dec. 11 '06 - 04:48AM    #
  24. I live in Ann Arbor Hills. Much of the parking on Hill Street close to Washtenaw, and on adjacent streets, has suddenly become permit parking. So now some students (I assume) are parking several blocks away into the neighborhood and catch the bus into the U.


       —xyz    Dec. 11 '06 - 09:29AM    #
  25. Todd, this part of your message makes no sense to me:
    That still doesn’t mean that everyone but residents are denied access to these spaces for even short term (>2hr. parking).

    RPP’s specifically allow less than two hours parking without permits. Maybe what you’re saying is that residents grab up all permits and issue them to friends etc. and that therefore there never are any spots, but I’m pretty sure that’s not true.

    I’m no fan of RPPs myself, but I understand that in some cases they’re the wrong solution for a real problem. When non-locals park all day in ways that cause problems (blocking driveways is the big one I keep hearing about), residents can get testy enough about having to call law enforcement over and over and over again that an RPP looks enticing. (Similarly when people leaves cars in place on the street for ages. Yes, one can call the city about towing eventually and all that, but I’m sure that gets old.) At the least, it tends to keep the offending parkers committing offences for shorter times, meaning you can get back out of your own driveway in 2 hours at least. In any case, there’s some routine enforcement in at least some RPPs whereas on non-RPP streets, scofflaws can pretty much get away with anything until someone calls about them (and even then they can get away with a lot). I think they’re also tempting to some neighborhoods where there’s a lot of cruising for parking going on, including random high-speed reverses etc., since there’s a perception (maybe not correct) that they cut down on the cruising. Again, I’m not saying RPPs should be the tool of choice here, and I opposed one for my nabe, just that I don’t think people who live in near-in neighborhoods are reacting to nothing but a sense of invasion. Other solutions—more park and rides/walks? better routine enforcement?—may be possible though.


       —Aki    Dec. 11 '06 - 05:27PM    #
  26. “Todd, this part of your message makes no sense to me:
    That still doesn’t mean that everyone but residents are denied access to these spaces for even short term (>2hr. parking).

    RPP’s specifically allow less than two hours parking without permits.”

    You misread my “greater than” sign as a “less than” sign. The RPP’s disallow any parking greater than ( >2hrs. ) two hours. You can’t park there for 2hrs. and 5 minutes. That’s short term parking IMHO.


       —todd    Dec. 11 '06 - 07:08PM    #
  27. xyz “I live in Ann Arbor Hills. Much of the parking on Hill Street close to Washtenaw, and on adjacent streets, has suddenly become permit parking. So now some students (I assume) are parking several blocks away into the neighborhood and catch the bus into the U.”

    Ding Ding Ding! Ladies and Gentleman: we have a winner.

    This is why RPP’s are so stupid. They don’t solve the problem. They move the problem, and I was hopeful that Arbor Updater’s would see that. It’s the ultimate NIMBY shuffle.

    Why else would I make a big stink about this? It ignores the overall problems, and shoves one neighborhoods problem (which is really everyone’s problem) over by a block or two, and then it becomes yet another neighborhood’s problem.

    Peter, remember how you explained “todd, you’re still not getting the picture. it’s not about the passes. it’s about the availability of short-term parking, vital in a residential neighborood.”

    Now take a look at xyz’s post#24 and explain to me how moving this commuter parking to the next neighborhood over solves the issue of the short term parking that is “vital” in a residential neighborhood? Does the next neighborhood over not have this “vital” need?

    And gee, do you think that these new neighborhoods that xyz is describing is going to come to Council with that RPP form filled out in triplicate? How long before that happens? A couple of months? Maybe a year or two?

    I have a hard time understanding how everyone doesn’t see how patently dumb, expensive, and unfair this RPP non-solution is…


       —todd    Dec. 11 '06 - 07:35PM    #
  28. I agree, Todd. So let’s talk alternatives. What do you think about the suggestion Murph offered in #12?


       —Steve Bean    Dec. 11 '06 - 07:56PM    #
  29. I think the continuous instant auction #12 is worth understanding in a little more detail, independent of how it’s executed technologically. Some questions.

    Minimum bid: I take it there’d be one, or else when there’s nobody else bidding, the space would be free?

    Duration: are times associated with bids? So am I bidding on Space #7593 for a hour, Space #7593 for 6 months, Space #7593 for as long as I need it today, or what?


       —HD    Dec. 11 '06 - 09:28PM    #
  30. Re #26: You’re right, Todd, I did misread the symbol. It’s been a long time since primary school math for me. And the meaning of “short-term” is of course subjective. But I’m sorry I misread you.

    As for the proposed Milton Friedman Memorial Marketization of Parking, well, I’m not crazy about it. But I’m not really in that market anyway even though I’m sympathetic to people for whom parking is an issue for various good reasons.


       —Aki    Dec. 11 '06 - 10:37PM    #
  31. I would like to know about the administrative overhead involved. How much would it cost the City to run such a system?

    Also, has such a system been implemented anywhere else? If so, what were the results?


       —David Cahill    Dec. 11 '06 - 10:37PM    #
  32. “Also, has such a system been implemented anywhere else?”

    I doubt it. This is all a pipe dream. Hey, let us have our fun!

    That said,

    “How much would it cost the City to run such a system?”

    Either make it pay for itself or ditch it, I’d say.


       —Bruce Fields    Dec. 11 '06 - 11:02PM    #
  33. “Either make it pay for itself or ditch it, I’d say.”

    That’s hard to disagree with.

    But can someone please tell me what we’re bidding one?


       —HD    Dec. 11 '06 - 11:33PM    #
  34. “... bidding one?

    But can someone please tell me what we’re bidding on?


       —HD    Dec. 11 '06 - 11:34PM    #
  35. So on Friday the letter showed up from the city to explain that “Congratulations!” we’re a resident only parking district. You can read more here.

    The letter cleared up a couple of things. For one, we aren’t a single block, stand alone district. We’re actually a non-contiguous appendix of the Spring/Summit/(Fountain? I don’t have the letter in front of me) district. It also doesn’t kick in until January 1, which is a small favor since any permit purchased now would only be good for the next couple of weeks.

    And Julie’s assertion that eleven of fifteen “households” signed on sounds pretty accurate. I would venture that the four hold outs were our household and the three apartment buildings across the street. The neighbors would have had to contact the owner of the three buildings (one person owns all of them) and why bother when they already had enough households on board?

    We’re opposed to this district, and such districts in general, for many of the reasons mentioned above, but in addition we also resent that the renters on our street, who one can assume will be impacted at least as much as the homeowners, had no say whatsoever, and probably didn’t even get the courtesy of the congratulatory letter that we homeowners received. And how will they be impacted? Well to start with, most leases in Ann Arbor run from September through August (or something close to that) but the $40 passes are good from January through December, meaning anyone who moves to the street next fall will have to buy two passes to get them to the end of their lease. They also cannot purchase passes themselves, but must ask their landlord to apply on their behalf. Now, one might suggest that since most of these apartments come with a single parking space they won’t need a spare, or if they do, they’ll only need a guest pass, but you can’t buy a guest pass until you’ve bought a resident pass, and if you’re caught displaying your resident pass on a car that’s not yours, you’re screwed. So they’ll need to pay $80 in September and another $80 in January if they expect visitors. Most of these renters are grad students who don’t keep 9:00 – 5:00 hours, and many have boyfriends and girlfriends who might stay over on weeknights and then want to sleep in the next morning. And yes, they can shift their cars around periodically, moving from one side to the other late at night or early in the morning, or they can buy a single pass and just keep their own cars in the street, but I don’t feel comfortable making my renting neighbors jump through hoops like that when I have two parking spots in my driveway and will never buy a parking pass myself or suffer any of the inconveniences of this program.

    When I suggested to the neighbor who brought me the petition for the resident only district that we could accomplish the same objective (of keeping some plumber, nanny, UPS spots open) while actually saving the city some money by putting parking meters on one side of the street, he looked at me like I had lost my mind. “You want a parking meter in your yard?” No, of course not, it would be ugly and a pain in the ass to mow around, but at least I’d feel a lot better about a system that made me pay some of the cost for the (perceived) benefit of keeping the parking spots open in front of my house. I’m not above cutting of my nose to spite my face if I need to to make a point.

    And don’t get me wrong. I hate commuters turning around in my driveway, throwing gravel in the yard, shining their lights in the front windows, leaving their McDonalds breakfast wrappers in the gutter, parking too close to the driveway, slamming their car doors and yakking on their cell phones while I’m trying to sleep. It’s a price I choose to pay so that I myself have the luxury of walking to work, and it’s beside the point because I DON’T OWN THE STREET. At least I didn’t; it looks like now I do.


       —Original E-mailer    Dec. 12 '06 - 12:38AM    #
  36. “but you can’t buy a guest pass until you’ve bought a resident pass”

    Note Scott did some calling around and it appears that they might grant exceptions at least for people without their own car.

    “and if you’re caught displaying your resident pass on a car that’s not yours, you’re screwed.”

    Thus making the permit kinda useless for what Peter speculates (and I’m inclined to agree) is what most people really want.


       —Bruce Fields    Dec. 12 '06 - 12:53AM    #
  37. HD, I had asked about thoughts (from Todd, specifically, but feel free to weigh in) on the “market pricing”/“auction” system that Murph briefly described in #12. I think that’s what David and Bruce were referring to.

    Having given it some thought since then, I can’t imagine wanting to participate—huge hassle. First-come, first-served systems seem much simpler and reasonably effective. (I was hopeful, though, that it might have some potential to give an incentive for football-Saturday parkers to use mass transit—or at least funding to expand it.)

    But what about a courtesy-based system, with a single designated (w/ curb painted number) space in front of each single-family home, two per duplex, and some multiple for apartments, with the right to have unauthorized vehicles towed or at least ticketed? (No, that’s not the courtesy aspect.)

    Would asking neighbors for their spaces for the use of your party guests or plumber’s van be too onerous? Would it be a headache to answer the door when your neighbor or their visitor came to ask you for parking permission (for the day, weekend, forever…)? Would requiring the courtesy of asking permission be too much to ask of students or commuters who regularly park in a neighborhood?

    And, of course, would it result in a passable solution for the real problem? (Todd?)

    And would Murph (and Original E-mailer) object that it gives ‘ownership’ of part of the street to homeowners and renters? (Think about it, Murph—it would build community and move away from a reliance on authorities to continually work things out for us.)


       —Steve Bean    Dec. 12 '06 - 01:35AM    #
  38. Steve,

    Right, I understood the reference to be Murph’s auction from comment #12. I just thought it would be interesting to wonder what what the rules to the auction would be [comment #29] specifically, do you bid on a space plus a duration or what exactly? So most recently I was just reiterating the plea to try and specify the details of such a program without worrying too much about technology. Doesn’t seem to be much interest on AU in that exercise, which is all well and good.

    There’s a wire service story originally from the Boston Globe, I think, running in the A2 News today about a ‘parking space spotter’ kind of arrangement that’s to be rolled out in Cambridge soon. It involves auction by cell phone, reports of vacancy updated automatically from parking garages, and the ability of people who have a parking space currently to sell off their leaving time to the highest bidder. My general impression was: a byzantine arrangement fueled by wireless technology. But the proof of the parking will be in the um, something.


       —HD    Dec. 12 '06 - 02:59AM    #
  39. Re: courtesy based system

    There’s no parking allowed on our street on either side. All but one house has a driveway. Still, the parking requirements of tradespeople, or large parties, lots of family visiting, etc. can still lead to neighbors negotiating the use of each other’s driveways to accomodate their ideosyncratic peak parking needs. Tradespeople routinely park in my drive who are there to work on some other house on the street.

    So this courtesy-based system of pooling the privately-owned driveway resource works. That’s one reason for optimism that Steve’s courtesy-based system for street parking might be able to work.

    A couple of questions: (1) would it be allowable to rent out your allocated street spot? (2) what kind of documentation would be required to get a vehicle towed out of a space it doesn’t belong?

    Maybe I’m overthinking (2). If an odd vehicle is parked in my driveway, I would guess I could call parking enforcement and based on my standing there on my porch saying, That car doesn’t belong to me, make it go away, they could make it disappear. Should be the same for the street allocated spaces.

    I really like the zero ongoing overhead for enforcement. You wouldn’t have to patrol, but rather only respond to requests to tow/ticket.


       —HD    Dec. 12 '06 - 03:23AM    #
  40. todd (#27), was that a rhetorical question?

    ( w00t! that’s my favorite rhetorical question! )

    in answer … yes, arbor hills also needs short-term parking. and if xyz’s anecdotal suggestion that student commuters’ response to the RPP at hill and washtenaw is to fill arbor hills’ streets, then i expect arbor hills to lobby for (and win) an RPP of its own.

    eventually, i expect the student commuters will find the commuter lots provided by the university (which i, ahem, assume exist) to be more convenient than parking in BFE and grabbing the bus. (thus BFE will be spared an RPP! happy, todd?)

    \(^_^)/


       —peter honeyman    Dec. 12 '06 - 04:04AM    #
  41. Regarding parking auction, I’m opposed to the idea from an equity standpoint, and I believe that the city is as well. The parking system is set up to provide a variety of parking options at a variety of cost levels to ensure that you don’t have to be rich to park in Ann Arbor. The idea is that one can choose from (relatively) expensive metered spaces downtown, cheaper off-street parking, or free neighborhood street parking.

    One might argue that this continuum sets neighborhoods at a disadvantage. However, keep in mind that changing the pricing scheme will impact the whole parking system, not just neighborhood parking (reference to todd’s repeated complaint that RPPs are myopic solutions to system-wide problems).

    For example, permits for structure parking have a a long waitlist, suggesting that the DDA could raise the cost for permits. The DDA has opposed such a change because they believe that parking rates should be reasonable in order for downtown to be successful. An increase in parking costs is going to negatively impact downtown businesses by increasing costs for low-wage workers and deterring customers. At least that will be their argument. And if you think neighborhoods are good at making a stink over parking issues, you’ll be knocked right out of your socks at how quickly competing businesses can allign themselves on parking issues.

    Also, while I appreciate Steve’s efforts to come up with a reasonable, cost-effective solution, any program that begins by granting residents permenant and total rights to on-street parking is off on the wrong foot. I firmly believe that any change to the parking system should improve the efficient use of available parking, not limit access to existing facilities, be they on or off street.

    Peter points out that by pushing commuters further and further out of town, they will eventually resign themselves to park-and-ride. This seems like a roundabout method to encourage transit use that creates a lot of collateral damage. Improving the public transit experience to attract riders seems like a more direct solution to me.


       —Scott TenBrink    Dec. 12 '06 - 04:47AM    #
  42. I think that it’s safe to say the Peter is kidding, Scott.

    I also think that Murph is just spitballing with suggestion.

    My solution, Steve, is to wait for the January Parking report came out, and hope that it is a comprehensive report. If it isn’t, we need to get one.

    Hopefully we will eventually have a solid idea about our parking assets and how they are used, and then we can begin to put together a strategy to address these issues using things like park & rides, bike lanes, density, meters, short-term parking signs, long-term parking signs, parking structures, density, car sharing, etc. etc..

    Act in the best interest of the town as a whole, and treat residents, businesses, commuters, and (horrors) students equally. We all share the roads and public spaces (feel free light your zippo, sing a song, and hold hands).


       —todd    Dec. 12 '06 - 06:48AM    #
  43. Unless I’m mistaken, Todd, the report will only cover the DDA area. The initial study areas are Main, Kerrytown, State, and “South Campus” (which I think is S. University area.) So the OWS, for example, isn’t addressed beyond First St.

    Scott, “permenant and total rights to on-street parking” would apply to a limited portion of the street (usually one space. My street of single-family houses has two or more in front of each.) I see now that this sort of program would be a partial implementation of the tradeable-permits system Ken Clark advocated.

    I checked the previous thread to see if you had expressed a preference for any alternative system. It appears that you haven’t. I’m assuming you don’t favor the status quo, so how would you rank the various alternatives at this point?


       —Steve Bean    Dec. 12 '06 - 05:56PM    #
  44. “I’m assuming you don’t favor the status quo, so how would you rank the various alternatives at this point?”

    Actually, Steve, I do favor the status quo until a comprehensive parking study is finished.

    Remember how homeowners, or more specifically, those accidental activists told the DDA that the parking structure on 1st and William was unnecessary? That local business owners, the DDA, and evil developers were wrong, or worse, lying? How we hadn’t properly studied the situation to see if the structure was needed at all? I mean, there isn’t a parking problem in that area, right?

    Well, while their right hand was making these statements, their left hand was filling out an RPP form for an area that, “coincidentally”, just happens to completely surround the 1st and William site in the OWS.

    http://www.ci.ann-arbor.mi.us/PublicServices/CustomerService/x_Permits/
    RPPParkingOldWestSide.pdf

    Hey, how about that. Personally, I don’t know how they manage to do these things with a straight face. While 1st and William may not be the best location for the DDA structure, it sure looks like that area is struggling with parking issues.

    Status quo will, IMHO, stop these selfish and childish games, and force homeowners to work with the rest of the City to find fair solutions. These band-aid cures make it so homeowners are completely unwilling to address the overall problems. Try proposing the construction of a parking structure adjacent to an RPP area, and you’ll find out what I mean in a big hurry (oh wait, we already have).

    A DDA area study is a great start, but we need to do the same for the rest of downtown.


       —todd    Dec. 12 '06 - 07:36PM    #
  45. Thanks for the memories, Todd. Just for a minute there you took me right back to Margaret’s Happy Place. The sun was shining. I was sitting in my own private park across the street from my house, and rare two-headed salamanders writhed in the earth around my naked toes. The view in all directions was un-obscured by parked cars, and if I listened carefully I could just detect the sound of the fetid sewage of the Allen creek gurgling its way through the superfund site.


       —Parking Structure Dude!    Dec. 12 '06 - 07:58PM    #
  46. “I checked the previous thread to see if you had expressed a preference for any alternative system. It appears that you haven’t.”

    Fair point, Steve. I’ve noticed my trend of nay-saying here without offering solutions. However, I was more interested in pointing out that RPPs did not come about for technical reasons and can’t really be justified by studies and statistics. The details of the policy and funding I’ve brought up show that the program doesn’t accomplish it’s intention.

    Despite that, they have been quite popular. I’m saying that RPPs are more of a political expression than an actual necessity. It is a “win” that council feels comfortable granting to neighborhoods. So my larger point was that RPPs should be seen in this political context.

    In post #41 I did come out specifically opposed to the RPP program because it reduces parking supply without providing any clear benefit. My personal preference would be to simply eliminate RPPs altogether and find a different way to appease neighborhoods. The market and courtesy based systems proposed above are unnecessary complications to the simplest parking solution, first come, first served.

    I would hesitate to make such a drastic move without better information on total parking availability, number of driveway-less homes, and average parking demand on both the specific neighborhoods and the surrounding area. However, I’d note that the current RPPs were implemented without such hesitations.

    Also, Steve, I don’t care if it is the whole street or just a few spaces. Street parking does not belong to adjacent property any more than the right to drive on the street does. Supporting such a program would be a misappropriation of public property and leads to bigger problems than the one we are trying to solve. For example, why can’t businesses own parking in front of their property? Why are we granting new property rights to the OWS, but not to the Broadway Hood? How does the new parking right affect the city’s effort to expand bike lanes? That list could go on for a while.


       —Scott TenBrink    Dec. 13 '06 - 03:42AM    #
  47. Thanks for the explanation, Scott. I think I had understood your position short of a preference. I agree about unnecessary complications, and FC-FS may be the best way to go in the end for that as well as the public property reason.

    I had been thinking that any policy would have to be implemented citywide. Interestingly, a form of appropriation of parking by businesses does occur: meter bags for construction vehicles and waste containers and the like. Also, just recently, a business on Main St. was granted the use of some spaces (I’m not sure how many) for valet parking service.

    If we go for fairness within an otherwise FC-FS system, would it be sufficient for building owners to reserve and pay for those construction or valet spaces? (I think they currently have to for the valet spots but I’m not sure about those for construction.) Expanding it to be citywide, including residential streets where parking is mostly free, a universal application fee for reserving a space might equalize things. That’s the best I can come up with in terms of a consistent public policy that allows anything beyond simple FC-FS.


       —Steve Bean    Dec. 13 '06 - 05:24AM    #
  48. But there are streets and neighborhoods, in Burns Park for instance, where the occupants of the houses or their guests or service providers would never be able to park on their street were it not for a residential parking district. Commuters take up the open spaces in the daytime and into the evening. Where should the occupants of the houses park if they don’t have a drive way, can only fit one car in the drive way but own two or have guests or service providers over?


       —Dustin    Dec. 13 '06 - 05:52AM    #
  49. I’ll start by repeating that I’m not a big fan of RPPs and have opposed the only one ever proposed for a place I’ve actually lived, and that my current experience is closer to HD’s up there, that cooperation solves lots of problems and fosters a sense of connection to neighbors and others as well. BUT falling back on FC-FS worries me because, while Todd says RPP’s just push the problem elswhere, FC-FS pushes people away from living near downtown or other busy areas. FC-FS has zero effect on people choosing sprawly or edge neighborhoods but a lot of effect on folks have actually chosen density. If the effect of FC-FS is, basically, that only people who are okay with rubbish in their front yards, random blocking-in, sharply limiting their family size and configuration, being dead certain to never get a disability, to have 100% reliable appliances, etc. etc. should choose to live in whole sections of town, you’re discouraging the very density you want to foster. I think there are solutions other than RPPs in some cases, and perhaps not in others, but just telling people to live with it unless they’re on board with building parking decks on Burns Park (yes, that’s hyperbole) is tiresome. I can and have put up with lots of urban inconveniences in former lives (crack vials on the front porch? the sound of not so distant gunfire? good times…) but I don’t think that my tolerances are everyone’s or are always going to be the same or that density is fostered that way. And neither is diversity in the central and near-in areas, by which I mean a range of ages, family sizes, household configurations, length of residency, etc.

    Also, like the original emailer, I once opposed an RPP for reasons of equity (renters and others) among other reasons, but I don’t think equity is necessarily served by FC-FS. Don’t make me quote Anatole France at you, people, but remember that apparently “equitable” systems may actually conceal a lot of advantages for people with the right kind of luck.
       —Aki    Dec. 13 '06 - 03:57PM    #
  50. “Where should the occupants of the houses park if they don’t have a drive way, can only fit one car in the drive way but own two or have guests or service providers over?”

    I don’t mean to sound heartless, Dustin, but that really isn’t the city’s problem. And if they make it their problem, where does it end? I have three cars, but my driveway only holds two? I have four cars, but only have space for three? I have only one car but the nanny, maid, wet nurse, and my personal assistant all drive? Yo, Ann Arbor, hook me up with some of that free parking shit!

    The only proper response to this is “Fuck you, you greedy bastard. You bought that house; you did your due diligence; now learn to solve your own problems. Christ, you may even find it empowering.” Why coddle people whose sense of entitlement is already grotesquely metastasized? Why attempt to reason with toddlers? They need to hear the word “no” and they need to hear it over and over and over until they understand it. What is wrong with people in Ann Arbor? They let their kids run wild in Trader Joe’s and they let their citizens get whatever they want when they throw a tantrum.

    Ann Arbor, you are way past needing a time out; you need a spanking.


       —Parking Structure Dude!    Dec. 13 '06 - 04:28PM    #
  51. Steve, interesting point about the meter bags. However, there is a fee for them ($10/day, which is almost the max daily income for a meter) and some pretty strict rules on their use (only commercial vehicles or dumpsters, must be continuously used, DDA decides whether your reasoning is valid, etc). There is an appropriation of street space, but the DDA makes it pretty clear that such appropriations should be limited in favor of public parking. Meter Bag Permit Form

    As for the valet, my understanding is that they aren’t reserving parking spaces but creating a loading zone by eliminating parking spaces. The impact of this trial program is TBD, but it is obviously different from an RPP in that it is an effort to use parking supply more efficiently.

    I suppose if that valet company thought they could make a buck parking plumbers’ trucks and visitors’ minivans in the OWS, I’d be OK with nixing a couple parking spots, if it means we can get rid of RPPs.


       —Scott TenBrink    Dec. 14 '06 - 03:40AM    #
  52. PSD: I can certainly see both sides of this debate. People do not own the street in front of their house.

    You are correct in that the people choose to live in these close in neighborhoods. Aki makes another point and she is on to something… The people who live close in, have chosen density, shouldn’t they be encouraged? Why make things hard for them? Does it make sense to drive out the families with children who tend to need a car or maybe even two? Would the city be better served if all the houses in the close-in neighborhoods were converted to student rentals just so our streets can be commuter parking lots?

    Let me offer a couple of other arguments that are sure to raise the ire of some here.

    Almost everyone working downtown and everyone associated with the University can have a free bus pass. There would be many side benefits (cleaner air, less CO2, less congestion, less gas used) if they were to use a park and ride lot or take the bus from home rather than park for free on the city’s residential streets. RPP districts encourage the use of transit.

    The people who live in the close-in neighborhoods, owners and renters, pay a hefty price to do so and about 30% of their taxes go to support the city and its streets and neighborhoods. Most of the commuters pay no taxes and if they are among the 35,000 who work for the University, not even their employer pays taxes. Commuting students who live outside of A2 also pay no taxes.

    Have you seen the plows trying to negotiate the streets on a snowy morning when they are jammed with commuter cars or the garbage crews trying to work around all the vehicles?


       —Dustin    Dec. 14 '06 - 05:00AM    #
  53. Dustin, one question worth asking in comparison is, what is the city doing to aid people who don’t have driveway space for all their parking needs and live on streets that don’t permit parking at all. While I don’t take PSD’s tough-love approach, it seems clear that RPPs solve one problem (resident street parking access) and create another (reduce parking availability for commuters) while ignoring the larger problem (more people want to park near downtown than we provide for).

    Aki’s hyperbole suggests that increasing parking supply is the solution. I tend towards the more idealistic goal of reducing parking demand. But either solution is more effective than RPPs in addressing the larger parking concern.

    BTW, I think Aki’s implied claims that OWS represents an appripriate density goal for Ann Arbor, and that OWS density would drop as a result of FC-FS street parking are overstated.
    I agree that free near-town parking supports suburban living and commuting. I just don’t see government intervention on street parking as a good way to address the issue.

    Also, equity is a dangerous term, but I think that FC-FS is the default position. I feel like any proposed change to that system bears the burden of showing an improvement (or at least not a reduction in) in equity, and not just the shuffling of “luck” from one group to another. but maybe FC-FS isn’t the default. I’d be interested in an argument for that position.

    Crap. Dustin snuck in on me, and I feel obligated to respond.

    “Would the city be better served if all the houses in the close-in neighborhoods were converted to student rentals just so our streets can be commuter parking lots?”
    I’m pretty sure most student housing demands more parking/unit than families do. I don’t have data, but I would go claiming that off-campus students create less parking demand than families.

    RPP districts encourage the use of transit.”
    RPPs limit parking supply. They only encourage transit use insofaras people fed up with parking problems switch to transit. If this is a good solution, we should be eliminating parking across the boards and not providing a loop-hole for residents to avoid needing transit.

    “Most of the commuters pay no taxes and if they are among the 35,000 who work for the University, not even their employer pays taxes”
    Certainly the University is a total drain on the city and should be driven out at all costs. The same can be argued for the many people who come to work in our fair city as well as the money-grubbing swine that employ them (aka local business). Perhaps restricting parking is not the most direct method to chase them out of town.

    “Have you seen the plows trying to negotiate the streets on a snowy morning when they are jammed with commuter cars or the garbage crews trying to work around all the vehicles?”
    While commuter cars may be especially difficult to negotiate, perhaps residents and their visitors/delivery drivers/plumbers vehicles present a similar obstacle. Snow removal parking regulations seem the best way to handle this problem, but if it is not sufficient, eliminating all street parking is certainly more effective than an RPP.

    Your examples show some ways that some people benefit from an RPP, but overlook the problems they create. In my opinion that is at best a wash. There are certainly more effective ways to solve the problems that you submit.


       —Scott TenBrink    Dec. 14 '06 - 05:51AM    #
  54. “Aki’s hyperbole suggests that increasing parking supply is the solution.” Huh? Just to clarify, I was actually trying to say that Some People suggest that the need is for more parking and that creating it will solve things. I don’t think that’s the case, since as others have pointed out, the parkers-in-the-neighborhoods are not looking for parking, they’re looking for free parking. People will circle the OWS three times hunting for a spot on the street while they go to the Y rather than park in the Y’s own lot or two blocks up the street in city parking. This sort of thing is why I’d actually happily entertain suggestions for putting parking meters all over the place, perhaps with a system that would allow residents some occasional privileges like the meter bags for particular circumstances (NOT ordinary “transit,” as I agree that residents should also be, shall we say, encouraged to use public and alternative transit, but circumstances like those which have been repeatedly listed—repairpeople, visitors, etc.), and/or creating meters with a longer possible time limit than an hour or two. Penalizing car commuting or at least making people pay for parking is okay with me.

    I don’t know if FC-FS would reduce density in the OWS but neither does anyone else, and I do think that making life too inconvenient, sometimes unpleasant, and even sometimes hazardous helps feed turnover and reduce age/household configuration diversity, and that it rewards people who opt out of density altogether.

    Just one example of how FC-FS isn’t necessarily “fair”: it gives purely arbitary advantages to people whose work schedules give them a headstart and it may penalize people whose life demands (work schedules, kid issues, caring for a dependent relative) may force different kinds of timetables on them.


       —Aki    Dec. 14 '06 - 03:06PM    #