City asks for resident input about potential parking plan

By Abbey Block

The city of Fort Worth is asking for resident input about a potential new parking plan that could help alleviate congestion on neighborhood streets.

The parking proposal would require a permit to park on the street of certain blocks. Cars parked on the streets without the appropriate permit could receive a warning, citation, or be towed. Residents would not need to purchase a permit to park in their own garage or driveway.

The program would implement numerous parking changes such as:

  • Resident parking permit: three allowed per residence, $25 per permit, expires Dec. 31 annually
  • Visitor parking permit: 20 allowed per residence, $2 per permit, valid for 24 hours
  • Vendor parking permit: four allowed per residence, $25 per permit, expires Dec. 31 annually
  • Replacement permits, $15 each

The potential proposal was presented at a meeting Wednesday night at Trinity Episcopal Church.

The parking program would be implemented in two phases in neighborhoods that are “impacted by spillover parking,” said Sam Werschky, assistant director of transportation and public works for Fort Worth.

Fort Worth city officials studied the parking plans of other cities such as Houston and Austin. (Photo by Abbey Block)

The spillover parking in Bluebonnet Hills is often caused by students who park in the neighborhoods near TCU to walk to campus, said Martha Jones, chair of the parking committee for Bluebonnet Hills. The cars make it difficult for residents to maneuver on the street and pull in and out of their driveways.

“Daytime students were coming and parking on our streets while they went to school and then in the evening, kids coming back to school would park on our streets and walk back to their dorm,” Jones said. “So we didn’t get a break.”

The Bluebonnet Hills neighborhood has enacted a pilot residential permit parking program for the last seven years, said Jones.

“There was absolutely no place to park on either side of the street,” Jones said. “If an ambulance was coming you had to back up because you couldn’t pass two cars.”

Since the permit requirement was implemented, the streets have become much safer and easier to drive on, said Jones.

Both phases of the proposed program would be carried out in 2018. The first phase, which would begin in January 2018, would start in neighborhoods that already have an existing pilot residential parking program, such as Bluebonnet Hills. The second phase would be carried out later in the year.

The city will conduct traffic studies to determine where the greatest spillover areas are and if the permit parking requirement would help alleviate the street congestion, said Werschky.

Areas with the most parking congestion will be considered for the residential parking permit program. Residents of each block would have to vote to approve and implement the program.

“If you don’t want it, we’re not going to say this is mandatory,” said Werschky. “It’s totally resident-driven. We’re not mandating anything.”

Although some residents voiced approval for the proposal, others weren’t happy about the cost of the parking permits.

“I am very opposed to the fact that I would have to pay $2 each time somebody parks on the street to visit our home. This would cost us at least $200 a year,” said Brian Jolin, a resident of Bluebonnet Hills. “We bought a home next to a university and to expect that students, staff and visitors to TCU are never allowed to park on my street is elitism and insane.”

Werschky said the money from the purchase of the parking tickets would go toward funding the program. The city would have to hire additional compliance officers to monitor the program and write tickets when necessary.

The little bit of revenue that we’re gaining here doesn’t cover the full cost of this program,” he said. “It’s an expensive program to run.”

Werschky invited the neighborhood residents who attended the meeting to write their comments about the proposed parking plan on comment cards.

The city will consider the input of neighborhood residents before voting to implement the plan. Jones, who has been working with city officials to develop the plan, said she thinks neighborhood feedback will help develop a plan that will serve the needs of each neighborhood.

“It’s an opportunity to tweak it and give feedback,” Jones said. “It’s like they’re molding something with clay and they’re going to tweak it. I don’t know what the final product will be.”