Group drafts parking plan for Dinkytown

by Heather Fors

Dinkytown resident Charisse Barber is tired of the parking problem in her community.
“If you’re not parked here by eight you’re screwed because you can’t find a spot,” she said. The reason: Commuters don’t have to pay to park on residential streets.
“I wish the commuters would buy their own spots,” Barber said.
Cars are packed bumper to bumper as residents, business people and students all squeeze into the limited space available on the Dinkytown streets. This daily ritual of fighting for rare spots has gotten some area residents in an uproar.
The transportation committee of the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Revitalization Program has taken these complaints to heart and has proposed one possible solution.
The committee suggested limiting parking in Dinkytown to one side of the street between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. The cars allowed to park there during this time would be required to display a permit.
Permits would only be available to neighborhood residents and area business owners and their employees for a fee of about $15 per year. Cars without such permits would be towed.
“If you live here then you should have the option of parking without getting towed,” said Brian Zehetner, Dinkytown resident and College of Liberal Arts senior.
For University students who don’t live in Dinkytown year-round, this solution may not be very appealing. In addition to the extra expense, students would also pay for a spot they might not always use.
But, City Council member Joan Campbell, Ward 2, said these measures might make people consider not owning cars. She said our society needs to get away from the idea that everyone must own a car.
“We have to provide incentives for people to get out of their cars and use public transit,” Campbell said.
People who park and live in the area, however, say getting people to give up their vehicles is unrealistic.
“The fact is, it’s a commuter school,” Zehetner said. “People have to drive. The people who live here have to park.”
Tim Hayes, a senior journalism student and area resident who owns a car, said the parking solution would only cause more problems for students and would be unfair.
“It sounds like it’s good for residents and businesses but bad for people who commute,” Hayes said.
Safety is another concern. Because of the parking problems, drivers can’t see if there is cross-traffic, said Joe Fusco, coordinator for the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Revitalization Program. Currently, the law prohibiting cars from parking less than 30 feet from a stop sign is not regularly enforced in Dinkytown, Fusco said. The committee suggested to post more signs reminding people of this law.
If the signs are posted, violators will be towed.
The parking permits are only one potential solution. Committee members said they will explore other options in upcoming meetings.