Martha Isenberg, like many residents who live in a neighborhood just west of the University of Utah campus, doesn't like the problems caused by students parking along her street.
At a public hearing Tuesday night, Isenberg and other residents voiced support for a proposal to restrict parking on certain streets within a 10-block area.Residents say they are harassed by students; that their vehicles have been damaged by people trying to fit in tight spots; and that it is difficult for friends to find a place to park if they visit.
"We have parking, but we as taxpayers can't use it," Isenberg said at the hearing attended by more than 50 people.
She said there was the time her son, a doctor, was stuck in her driveway while a patient was having a heart attack. Someone has just decided to leave his vehicle parked behind the doctor's car.
The Salt Lake City Public Works Department has proposed, at the request of residents, to make most streets in the neighborhood residential-only parking zone from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Holidays and weekends would be excluded.
Under the plan, residents could purchase up to three parking permits for $12 each. Each household would also be allowed two guest permits.
Two other areas, near the neighborhood's business district, would allow parking but have time limitations (see map). A final decision on the plan will be made by April 24 by City Public Works Director Joseph R. Anderson. The city has successfully used similar programs in the Avenues near LDS Hospital and in the Federal Heights area.
The process to implement the permitted parking areas came after more than 60 percent of residents on individual streets signed petitions requesting the change. A few streets in the area didn't have enough signatures, said Lynn H. Erickson, residential permit parking coordinator.
Some residents at the hearing complained they had never heard about the proposal or that it was misrepresented to them when they signed the petition. Erickson said that the city had attempted to contact all residents and property owners in the area.
Gary Samuelson, a U. student who commutes from Bountiful, said that, given his schedule, he has little time to drive around campus looking for an empty stall, so he parks in the neighborhood.
He said that he believes commuting students may have been ignored in the decisions of the city. He found about the public hearing by seeing a poster attached to a tree.
While residents say a proposed permitted parking system will mean they can have their neighborhood back, Samuelson says it may only shift problems to other streets without restrictions.
Beth Brown, a resident on Douglas Street, said, "I want my home back again. I want my freedom. I want my privacy. I want my children to return to me."
She explained how her children have been harassed by university students on the street. That has including exposure to nude male students and sexual harasment, she said.
Some of the neighbors blamed the U. for the parking problems and asked why it hadn't constructed a parking plaza.
Alma Allred, U. director of parking, said in a Deseret News interview that the plaza isn't likely in the near future because a constrained Legislature would have to fund it and because there are empty stalls each day at the school's economy parking lots.