Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo goers won’t be able to park for free on the public, residential streets off Montgomery Street near the Will Rogers Memorial Center, the site of the show that starts in January.
Earlier this year, the Arlington Heights neighborhood, with the help of the city, conducted a pilot program that allowed only residents and their guests to park on the streets. Residents on those blocks, roughly from Watonga to Harley avenues, were given hangtags for their cars. Illegally parked cars were given citations or towed.
One resident said that on weekends during the Stock Show, as it has been for years, outsiders cram cars in the tightest spots on both sides of the street, making it difficult for residents to get to their homes or park at all. The problem is, many of the homes in the older neighborhood only have driveway and street parking.
The area is considered to be in a “resident-parking-only zone,” one of five such areas spelled out in a recently adopted ordinance by the City Council. The areas are in neighborhoods near venues and attractions that create spillover parking. Two of the areas already have permit-parking-only programs.
In addition to Arlington Heights, the ordinance covers North Hi Mount, where University of North Texas Health Science Center students tend to park, and Bluebonnet Hills, where Texas Christian University students park, rather than paying to park on campus.
The ordinance also includes the Stockyards and the historic Magnolia area, on the Near South Side. If those areas want permit-only parking, traffic studies will need to prove they qualify for a program. Programs, too, will be implemented on a block-by-block basis.
Although the ordinance is in place, many details and questions remain. The biggest concern is cost. The ordinance was approved with no fee schedule or how the ordinance will be enforced. Part of the rush was to have the program in place in time for the Stock Show, which runs Jan. 12 to Feb. 3.
There’s no money in the 2018 budget to hire parking officers to roam the designated areas looking for offenders. For now, the city will rely on residents to call in violators.
Brenda Helmer, president of the Arlington Heights Neighborhood Association, said the pilot program worked “in theory” and the permit-parking-only signs did keep out nonresidents. But, the association doesn’t want to manage the program, nor do they want to police the neighborhood. They also don’t want to pay for it, she said.
“The beef is I don’t want to pay to park on my own street,” Helmer said. “I hope the city can some how manage it.”
The city spent $101,500 to run the pilot program in Arlington Heights, of which $68,000 was spent for the signs and $30,000 on a traffic study. In all, 311 warnings and 51 citations were issued, and 191 homes, or 60 percent of the designated area, participated, according to figures.
Under the ordinance, city staff at one time proposed a $25 fee per car, up to three cars. Mayor Tem Dennis Shingleton, whose district covers Arlington Heights and North Hi Mount, said that fee was too much and is proposing a $25 fee per house for up to three cars, if they want to participate. Tags would expire annually.
The council won’t start looking at a fee structure until January, after they return from a holiday break.
Shingleton said the ordinance lays the groundwork for a program. He said he’s hoping residents in the newly-designated zones will be flexible and keep an open mind while working out the kinks of the ordinance.
“This is a new game we’re playing here,” Shingleton said. “Just remember, any given Tuesday we can modify this. It’s going to take some adjusting.”
North Hi Mount and Bluebonnet Hills neighborhood associations have been running their own permit programs for years, but now those will be administered by the city and they’re concerned about that. The city installed signs when the programs began, and association parking committees have enforced them.
Ann Stahl, who headed the parking committee in North Hi Mount when the program was put in place in 2008 on about a dozen blocks, said it has “made a huge difference.”
UNT did a good job of telling students to be aware of the resident-only parking area, and when word got around that cars were being towed, the students stopped parking there, Stahl said.
They want their program to continue, particularly because the reduced traffic is safer for North Hi Mount Elementary School, off West Seventh Street and a few blocks from the UNT Health Science Center campus.
North Hi Mount residents, too, don’t feel they should have to pay for the program, Stahl said.
“We still feel it’s a violation of our right to have to pay to park in front of our houses,” Stahl said.
About a half-dozen blocks in Bluebonnet Hills, near TCU, are included in a resident-only parking area, in place for about eight years. So many students parked in the neighborhood during the week for classes and on Saturdays for home football games, that Wabash Avenue near the school became a parking lot, among other issues.
Martha Jones, who helps to run the parking program there, said the streets are passable because of it. Volunteers police the program, she said.
“We have a very successful program,” Jones said. “There are a lot of things not answered in that ordinance. We’ll give it try and see how it works. But I’m happy with it has a starting point.”