The City of Bellevue approved two-hour parking for five spaces on Fairfield Avenue in front of properties that are now mostly used commercially.
The city designated several blocks along its commercial corridor as two-hour parking in 2004 and updated the ordinance last week to include spots that were previously in front of residential properties.
"We need to amend this order to more closely represent what Fairfield Avenue actually is now," said Assistant City Administrator Jody Robinson. "A lot of these residential properties are no longer there. They are now commercial buildings."
Robinson said the change was sought at the prodding of business owners. "We believe it will increase the value of those commercial buildings," she said.
The move from residential parking to timed parking led to the conversion of multiple properties from vacant to commercial, Robinson said.
City councilman Bill Helton expressed concern over residents who live in the area impacted by the addition of five more timed spaces. Robinson said that many residents in Downtown Bellevue have off-street parking and that the parking restrictions are only in place from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Helton argued that if a visitor to Bellevue were to park and take in all the businesses on the Avenue, that the trip would likely take longer than two hours. To return to a vehicle with a ticket on the windshield may discourage a return trip, he said. While he agreed that businesses should be supported by parking that encourages faster turn-over of users, "I don't want the residents in the area to pay the consequences because it won't be fair to them because they live down there."
Robinson conceded that there is always a challenge in finding a parking balance in mixed-use corridors that include commercial and residential properties. "We hopefully will have opportunities in our future to provide off-street parking but where we are today, if you look to the business corridors in Newport, Covington, and Ft. Thomas, there is restricted parking even though they are all mixed-use," Robinson said.
Council approved the change for the designated spaces on the 700 block of Fairfield Avenue but Robinson was asked to explore options to examine the possibility of installing meters on the street at some point.
She said before her time in Bellevue, parking meters were studied. "There are some advantages and disadvantages," she said. "It certainly creates parking turnovers." Adding parking meters would also cost the city parking spaces because of the size requirements for each metered space. Whereas with unmarked two-hour parking spaces, a car's size could allow it to occupy a small space, the required size of a metered space is designed to accommodate even larger vehicles.
That is one of the reasons that during the city's streetscape project that it elected not to mark parking spaces.
The goal is to keep cars circulating, City Adinistrator Keith Spoelker said. Without timed spaces, "A car could take a spot out of commission for the whole day," he said.
"We want to give the opportunity for their customers to pull in and pull out," Spoelker said.
Robinson also requested better enforcement of the two-hour parking limitation. Councilman Matt Olliges argued that the police department doesn't have the man-hours, "and we don't want to be in the parking enforcement business". Olliges conceded that tickets for violating the two-hour limit are not often issued. "I don't think I'm letting the cat out of the bag," he said. He said he would like to see a study conducted on the impact of meters on the street. "The meter is what tricks people into saying it is time to leave," Olliges said.
Robinson said that parking studies are expensive and typically conducted by city planners but she agreed to look into it.
"It might be the right thing to do at this time and then once we get more information, we change the policy to eliminate the two-hour restriction in lieu of meters," Spoelker said.
Police Chief Wayne Berry said most of the complaints the department gets about parking violations are from the people being cited. "It's a very passionate issue," he said. Berry said the department tends to take a reactive approach to parking enforcement.
Other notes from city council meeting:
The salt barn was full as of last week's meeting, prior the snowfall Sunday into Monday.
"We've been able to keep the salt supply full this winter," Mayor Ed Riehl said. "Hats off to the guys that have done an exemplary job of keeping our streets clean. They had a tough task this winter with all the storms one after the other and the cold temperatures that followed."
"If you see the guys, tell them thanks."
The city used a little more than 150 tons of salt this winter and was down to its last twenty tons before the most recent shipment arrived," Spoelker said.
The city administrator said that the extreme storms have cost the city 3,500 hours in overtime, about five hundred more than anticipated. Spoelker said there are savings from other accounts that will cover that extra cost.
One area Bellevue hopes to improve upon is the notification of residents for when garbage collection is delayed. Spoelker said the city is working on enhancing its social media presence to help with that.
Spring Clean-Up is scheduled for March 31 - April 6. There will be dumpsters at the public works facility on Colfax Avenue where residents can drop off trash, with the exception of liquids such as paint or oil.
In previous years the dumpsters were placed at the Callahan Center but Spoelker said it is easier for a backhoe to reach them at the public works facility and likely easier for drop-off by residents.
A shred day is also scheduled for April 5 at the Callahan Center from 9 a.m. - noon.
Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News