Concerned about the limited supply of parking spots, members of the Old Fourth Ward, Oxbridge and North Burns Park neighborhood associations are considering petitioning the city of Ann Arbor to limit public parking on their streets by requiring resident-only parking permits for their neighborhoods. The residents are motivated by claims that University students and faculty dominate the parking in their wards. The groups need to collect signatures from 60 percent of the homeowners in their neighborhoods to petition the City Council, which would then have to vote to implement the initiative. Though local residents have legitimate reason to be concerned about the short supply of parking in their neighborhoods, forbidding commuters from using public streets is an unnecessary and reactionary response.
Representatives of the neighborhood associations argue exclusive resident-only permits would ensure all local residents the ability to park in their own neighborhood– –— something they claim they are not currently able to do. The petitioning neighborhood associations do not realize that limiting the supply of spaces in one area will inevitably magnify the overcrowding in other areas — effectively transferring the problem from one neighborhood to another. If this situation arises, then it would be reasonable to assume other wards will petition for their own resident-only parking permits. The whole development could potentially devastate every individual’s ability to commute in Ann Arbor; nobody would be able to park in an area they weren’t a resident of. Proponents also contend permits would prevent parking that obstructs streets and driveways. However, the police department already zealously pursues parking violations making the permits unnecessary.
Despite valid concerns of the neighborhood associations, local residents need to recognize the parking supply is necessarily limited by its public nature. City streets are public domain, and as such, should be open to all drivers. Parking deficiencies are a universal tradeoff for anyone who chooses to live, work or study in the city of Ann Arbor. If local residents are concerned about parking in their neighborhood, they should request approval from the city’s zoning commission to construct their own private driveways.
University students and faculty members who commute use street parking as the only sensible alternative to the $500-per-year permits sold for University lots. Though cheaper parking is available at more remote lots like Crisler Arena, the prospect of walking great distances or waiting for shuttle buses is not particularly appealing, especially during winter weather.
If the Old Fourth Ward, Oxbridge, and North Burns Park neighborhood associations should succeed in petitioning for a restriction in public parking in local areas, the City Council should deny their request. Many students and University employees commute into the city on a daily basis, and restricting street parking would unnecessarily inconvenience many individuals. Adopting the initiative would be a detriment to all commuters and public life in Ann Arbor.