Parking has been the number-one problem expressed by Hillcrest residents for years. On October 2, Luke Terpstra, chair of the Hillcrest Town Council, talked to me about the problem.
"We have a thriving business district in Hillcrest,” said Terpstra, "and University Avenue doesn't have much parking for customers or employees. They usually have to park a block or two away into the residential neighborhoods."
Two options being considered are residential permit parking and angled parking (to include some head-in parking).
"It's impossible to get residential permit parking designation unless a neighborhood is next to a stadium, hospital, or university,” said Terpstra. “A thriving business district isn't enough. However, permit parking should still be on the table as a fair option that shares space and could be easily structured to fit the needs of a residential area. Angled parking might not be such a difficult pill to swallow if it were accompanied with a little sugar."
The Hillcrest Town Council has a community meeting scheduled for October 13 to discuss Hillcrest's parking issue. Elizabeth Hannon, the COO of the Uptown Community Parking District, will give an update about proposed angled parking for Essex Street and other locations. There will also be a discussion about residential parking permit zones. Both the parking district and the town council have asked for ideas from the community. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Joyce Beers Community Center on Vermont Street.
In regards to Essex Street, Terpstra said, "Plans have been in the works for years. In 2009, the parking group, at the time a different group, attempted to get angled parking on Essex. The residents rallied against it and stopped it from happening. The parking district is going to try it again, hoping enough water has gone under the bridge."
Terpstra said that at least 70 percent of the residents on a street have to agree to the angled parking or it won't happen. Residents include anyone who lives on the street — renters and homeowners have equal say. A face-to-face survey is planned, to include the collection of signatures. If the threshold is met, then the plan moves forward without further discussion.
I spoke to Hannon on October 2.
"There are up to 145 new on-street parking spaces that we could gain by angling some of the wider streets in Hillcrest," said Hannon. "We will begin vetting these sites with the residents this fall to see if these are ideas that the community wants. The noticing and door-to-door efforts should start early in 2016."
Hannon stressed that, "By the year 2020, there will be a parking shortage of at least 450 spaces. It's important to increase the supply, and angled parking is only the start. We are working on a variety of ideas to help alleviate parking impacts in Hillcrest and we will be looking for the community to weigh in on these beginning early 2016. These will complement the services we already provide, such as a $5 valet on Fifth Avenue and free parking at the DMV and the ParkHillcrest Trolley on the weekends."
Hannon said that more information about parking options in Hillcrest can be found at accesshillcrest.com.