Study will assess parking situation in Southeast Como

Resident concern with parking safety and availability prompted the survey.

Eric Swanson

Free parking near the University is difficult to find.

To avoid paying, graduate student Cory Kending parks in the Southeast Como neighborhood and walks a dozen blocks to school every day.

The cold weather the past few weekdays has made that commute brutal. And the walk will get worse if parking regulations in the neighborhood change.

Kending is one of many students who park in University-area neighborhoods to avoid pricey parking. But the number of spaces available to those commuters could soon dwindle as city officials consider altering parking policies.

Resident concerns, including parking safety availability, prompted the Southeast Como Improvement Association – the neighborhood association for the Southeast Como area – to compile data to assess the parking situation, neighborhood coordinator Greg Simbeck said.

He would not comment on the survey’s possible outcome but said repeated complaints from residents sparked the study.

The parking survey is no longer posted on the Southeast Como Improvement Association Web site. But Simbeck said the group still encourages residents to give their input at the office, located at 2010 E. Hennepin Ave.

He said a main concern is safety and that ambulances and fire trucks experience difficulty turning down certain streets and intersections when there are too many parked cars.

The association plans to complete the study before the end of spring semester to ensure students can be involved in any changes to parking regulations, he said.

“When we have the data compiled, we want a community-wide solution,” he said

Several years ago, the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association limited parking to one side of many city streets, causing an overflow into the Southeast Como neighborhood, which has only added to the problem, Simbeck said.

According to the parking survey, the accumulated data will be brought to the city’s public works department.

Minneapolis Council President Paul Ostrow, 1st Ward, said he has worked with the Southeast Como neighborhood to resolve parking problems in the past, but he said “there are limitations as to what the city can do to limit parking.”

“Permit parking is a possibility but can be a major inconvenience for the people in the neighborhood,” he said.

Recent University graduate Marc Knutson said any changes to parking in the neighborhood would create problems for him and his roommates, who live on Southeast 22nd Avenue.

“I have never had a problem parking in this neighborhood,” Knutson said. “There is no parking problem; why is it a problem now?”

Ward 2 council member Paul Zerby said he has handled resident concerns over area parking and pointed to parking limitations or permit parking in the Southeast Como neighborhood as possible solutions.

“It is clear that the tension between the permanent residents and students tend to revolve around partying, or the question of parking,” Zerby said. “It seems to be a chronic problem.”

Zerby proposed working with the Minnesota Student Association and the University to find a resolution that students and residents can embrace.

City officials will also hold a public hearing at 9:45 a.m. Feb. 17 to discuss increasing residential parking permits to $25 annually.

Residents can find the proposed ordinance changes online at www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us.