The City of St. Paul is reviewing the city’s residential parking-permit program in an effort to improve and find “ways to better administer and enforce the program,” according to the city’s website.
The city launched a study in late summer after “years of complaints about the system,” said City Council president Russ Stark.
Those complaints have ranged from concerns about “secondary markets of permits” around colleges, particularly the University of St. Thomas, where permit holders resale permits to students who want to park closer to the school and not pay for parking, Stark said. He’s interested in a system that ties permits to specific addresses.
The logistics of buying permits is “clunky,” Stark said. He would like to see an online application process established. New permit applicants must apply in person at the city’s Traffic Operations Building on North Dale Street and renewing holders have to renew in person or by mail.
And in some areas, the permit restrictions have outlived their reasons for being there or have made it hard for business needs, Stark said.
The city contracted with SRF Consulting Group to the study permit system.
St. Paul has 3,500 permit-holders in its nearly 30 permit areas, two of which are in the Bugle readership area. Area 2 is in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood and is bound by the area north and west of Como Avenue, east of Cleveland Avenue, and south of Dudley and Hoyt avenues. Como Park’s Area 29 is west of Como Regional Park.
The city mailed paper surveys to some permit holders with the 2017 renewals in late summer. Area 29 residents were not sent the paper surveys because their permits are renewed in March, as the parking restrictions there are enforced just May 1 to Sept. 30, said Jeannette Rebar, community engagement coordinator for St. Paul Public Works.
“For Area 29, we notified and provided an online survey to the district council,” Rebar said.
Other outreach included postings on the city’s Facebook page and Twitter account and a link to the survey in Stark’s December newsletter. The city also sent 437 emails to holders who had shared their email addresses with the city.
The city launched the online survey on Nov. 22. It closed on Jan. 8.
The online survey was completed by 354 people and 850 paper surveys were completed, 125 of which came from Area 2, Rebar said. “If the consultant’s report comes back with recommendations for major changes, we would then establish a community engagement plan.” No changes can be made in the city ordinance governing residential permit parking without public notice.
The residential parking-permit system started in the early 1980s. The districts are created when surrounding residents petition for a separate district on their blocks. Three-quarters of the area’s residents are required to sign the petition to designate the area before it can be approved by the city council.
Since the 1980s, the city has added new areas and lost some areas. There are now 27 residential restricted parking areas, and they all have distinct rules. Some allow one-hour parking for non-permit holders, some don’t allow any parking for non-permit holders during specific hours, and some restrict parking on weekends, others only on weekdays.