UPTOWN — Last week, several blocks in Uptown learned they would be switching to "residential zoned parking" after residents, fed up with searching for spots near their homes, voted for it via online survey.
Residents of two block clubs in the 46th Ward voted overwhelmingly for the zones, which will restrict parking during certain hours except for those with permits, Ald. James Cappleman (46th) announced last Monday. Signs will be posted later this year, he said.
"It's always been bad," said Edward Brandenburgh while walking with his wife to his home in the 4700 block of North Magnolia Avenue, one of the blocks that voted for the residential zoned parking. "There really ain't no parking and my wife is handicapped, so it's really bad and it's important for us to find a parking spot near our home."
Monday, Cappleman announced the Magnolia-Malden Block Club and Clarendon Park Neighborhood Association had voted "overwhelmingly" for the zoned parking. Seventy-three percent of members in the neighborhood groups supported the idea. All of the other neighborhood organizations voted against having zoned parking on their streets or were on the border of a neighboring ward, Cappleman said.
While few would disagree that parking is a problem in the southern part of Uptown, many residents have questioned if zoned parking is band-aid over a much bigger problem. As the dust begins to settle on the subject, some neighbors believe this is just the beginning of a long parking war that will affect the neighborhood block-by-block.
"Parking is a pain in the butt everywhere, not just in this neighborhood. I think the neighborhood is changing a lot. A lot of big buildings are being built into small areas. There's only so much space, unfortunately," said Loretta Rode, a member of the Beacon Street Block Club, which voted against the zoned parking.
Her block club was one of nine who voted against the residential parking permits, simply because "it doesn't make sense," she said. "We pay enough as it is and now we're paying for guests."
The idea was counterintuitive to an inclusive neighborhood, she said.
"We want people to come to our neighborhood. I personally don't think it's necessary," she said.
Parking around the neighborhood is a nightmare, especially "between 9-11 [p.m.] when everyone is getting home," Rode said, but residential parking makes neighbors into enemies. Now that the votes are tallied, her neighbors are worried about overflow from other blocks, she said.
"What happens when the spots are filled and they start parking on to Beacon Street. They'll ask 'why are you parking over here. Didn't you get permit parking?" she said. "I just think it's really sad. We're putting neighbor against neighbor and we're fighting."
About 122 people from the Beacon Street block club voted on the issue — 63 voted yes and 59 voted no, according to data provided by the alderman to the club. Sixty-five percent of the group needed to vote for the parking for it to take effect, Rode said.
The Beacon club only exists online and doesn't have meetings or annual dues. The group has about 300 members in its Facebook group.
Rode didn't believe the voting was very representative of her block, she said.
"The whole voting process was weird. The cut off was weird, Aug. 1, that's when a lot of people are moving out and moving in," she said. "A lot of people don't even know it's a topic of conversation."
Magnolia resident Edward Brandenburgh and his wife grew up in the neighborhood and have lived at their home for about 13 years. They said parking has gotten more difficult recently due to more people working in the neighborhood, especially with the construction at Truman College.
Wednesday afternoon, the neighborhood was full of dog walkers and nannies, many of whom said they used public transportation to travel to Uptown. Parking spots were scarce, but available, an anomaly to Charlene Zomaya.
"Today is the first time I've ever turned down a corner and there was a spot. That never happens," said Zomaya, a field supervisor for a home health agency. "Today was a great day. I can't believe I found parking on this block."
Zomaya said she's been visiting clients in Uptown for over a year and usually walks several blocks from the nearest parking spot she can find. It only gets worse in the colder months, she said.
"It's terrible. In the winter, I walk four or five blocks through the snow," she said. "Look at it. Everyone is bumper-to-bumper unless there's a handicap parking zone. If you come back Friday when [there's street] sweeping, you can find a parking spot."
Residents in the 46th Ward who wish to have zoned parking on their street can download a petition here.
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