Would you pay to park on the street in front of your house?
We don’t think Fort Worth residents should have to.
But if you live in the five areas of the city covered by a new residential parking ordinance, the privilege of parking in front of your own home could cost you.
Something about that doesn’t sit right with us.
In December the Fort Worth City Council designated the Will Roger Memorial Center/Dickies Arena; Texas Christian University and the University of North Texas Health Science Center; The Stockyards, and Magnolia Historic Area as “resident-parking-only-zones.”
That is a necessary given that these parts of the city frequently struggle with spillover parking problems from “non-residential parking generators” that make neighborhood life challenging. The TCU and UNT areas deal with excess cars from students and sporting events; Arlington Heights from the Stock Show; The Stockyards and Magnolia Ave. from tourists and nightlife.
While the economic benefits from these attractions and institutions is good for Fort Worth, the spillover parking — which can make narrow streets nearly impassable — is more than just a nuisance for nearby neighborhoods. It’s a safety issue.
The city has tried to address that with its new program which allows residents or property owners up to three parking permits and two vendor permits to be renewed each year. Residents also are allowed unlimited 24-hour visitor and 30-day temporary permits.
When the city council approved the new parking program, which would cost more than $100,000 annually, it could not agree on what the permits should cost. The initial proposal was $25 a permit (to be renewed annually), which meant that participating households could pay as much as $75 if they registered three vehicles.
Some council members balked at the cost. We understand why. Seventy-five dollars is not a reasonable fee for some residents, especially those with limited or no driveway or garage space, who have no choice but to participate. They shouldn’t have to pay to park in front of their own homes.
But to be effective, the ordinance needs to be enforced. And enforcement costs money. The city may need a third-party to issue tickets and patrol streets. However, there was no money set aside for the program in the 2018 budget.
This week the council discussed the program briefly at its work session and agreed that “at this time” permits will be available free of charge. The city’s Transportation & Public Works parking enforcement team will address violations during the day, and the Police Department will do so during non-business hours.
That’s good news for residents, but it sounds an awful lot like an unfunded mandate and a strain on existing resources. Without extra help, will the city be able to keep non-residential cars off these streets? We’re not sure.
We’d like to see businesses and other non-residential parking generators get involved in the parking problems, too. They could provide extra parking or offer financial assistance with enforcement in the neighboring streets. And what a way to build up some good will with local homeowners who won’t have to pay to park in front of their homes.
For its part, as it considers future economic development projects that could cause spillover parking in other parts of Fort Worth, the city council must always keep in mind the needs of nearby residents.