June 15, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge
Residents are railing against the Department of Transportation for inspiring what one resident called “the Hunger Games of monthly permit parking.”
As of May, the DOT removed about one third of monthly permitted spots in the Court Square parking garage next to the Courthouse, pushing drivers into the already crammed surrounding streets.
Previously, 330 spots were designated for monthly parkers; 120 of those are now used for daily parking.
The agency also modified its permit policy; whereas drivers used to renew their tickets at their convenience before a monthly deadline, permits are now given out first-come first-serve on a single day each month.
P.C. Cheng, who offered the Hunger Games quip, said that under the new policy drivers line up hours ahead of time to better their chances of getting a monthly permit.
“We’re here at 6:30 a.m. [on the day to get a monthly permit] because we need to know that we’re getting a parking spot,” Cheng said. “I can’t run down every hour to feed the meter. There are no other replacements for us.”
Neighbor Toni Duckworth said that she was denied a monthly permit after waiting in line for four hours.
“We have absolutely nowhere else to go,” Duckworth said. “You have people around here who are getting tickets every day because they can’t move their car in time.”
The DOT responded that the new policy represents a more “fair and efficient balance between daily and monthly permits,” according to a spokesman.
“Routinely this facility was forced to turn away a significant amount of motorists seeking parking on a more short-term basis,” the spokesman said of the old system. “Given this is the second month the new system is in place, DOT plans to review data obtained after several months of implementation and will make any necessary changes, if needed.”
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said he is requesting that the DOT restore the number of monthly parking spots and its previous permit renewal policy that allows motorists to renew at their convenience.
“What has been done can be undone,” Van Bramer said. “They got this one wrong.”
Nicos Hadjiangelis, who lives across the street from the parking lot in the Arris Lofts, said he found out about the new policy only after a neighbor posted about it in a Yahoo forum.
Hadjiangelis said he cannot wait in the DOT’s new permit sign-up line because of his work schedule, so he had to move his car to a private lot 10 blocks away.
“It’s less convenient for sure,” Hadjiangelis said, adding that he now pays $350 per month, compared to $200 for the municipal lot.
According to DOT officials, the agency is working on an electronic permit reservation system expected to roll out this summer.