New Ideas in the Community West Seventh Parking Study

by Kent Petterson
In August, Biko & Associates and Greenway Transportation Planning released its final report for the West Seventh Street Parking Study. The report was commissioned by the city in response to a request from the Fort Road Federation to take a look at parking concerns raised by neighbors and businesses in the corridor. The study boundaries were from the western edge of downtown along West Seventh to St. Clair Ave. and bounded by 35E to the northwest and the river to the southeast. A digital version of the study is available at both the Fort Road Federation and West 7th Business Association websites (fortroadfederation.org or w7ba.org).
The recent trajectory for our neighborhood land use, both in existing and new residential and business uses, has put pressure on available parking to fill expanding need. The study does a good job explaining the existing parking supply found on public streets, private surface lots and parking ramps, and offers historical context and detailed descriptions of the three current Permit Parking Areas 7, 13 and 30. Metered areas and parking restrictions are mapped street by street. Existing parking is inventoried, and details are provided on what time of day it is available, when it is used and usage specifically in relation to large events.
Local respondents during interviews and community events held over the study period starting last fall and into late spring 2019 felt that large events had a significant impact on parking availability, but the study did not support this conclusion in various data offered.
A large portion of the study area, primarily in Little Bohemia, has been restricted to permit parking for residents only [No Parking 7 a.m.-8 p.m.] since 2007. In 2018 affected residents petitioned for an expansion of Permit Parking Area 7 No Parking to include areas along Goodrich Ave. as permitted parking only. After discussions with businesses along West Seventh, which depend on the availability of customer parking along Goodrich, a compromise was reached to set the parking at two hours maximum with permits available for residents in the area. This compromise was seen as recognition by all that street parking was a resource that needed to be shared to serve neighbors, their visitors and business customers.
The study came up with seven big ideas that are discussed in detail with supporting drawings and information. 1. Increase utilization of existing off-street parking supplies in privately owned parking ramps near the Xcel Arena.  2. Increase the supply of on-street parking within the study area. 3. Improve the parking turnover rate.  4. Refine Permit Parking areas and revise time restrictions. 5. Improve parking regulation enforcement. 6. Encourage shared parking.  7. Establish a Parking Improvement District.
All of these big ideas have potential to mitigate our parking circumstances. Specific actions may or may not come from further discussions at the Planning Commission and City Council and as discussed in the neighborhood. A significant part of the action could be determined in the neighborhood.
I would add that parking enforcement policy at the city mentioned in #5 has been changed to be mostly complaint-driven. This means that the city parking enforcement officials may not be actively seeking to find violators. Enforcement will go where complaints indicate violations are occurring. In that regard, to borrow a phrase, “If you see something, say something.” If you have a parking enforcement complaint call 651-266-5585.

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