Parking overflow fuels

Erin Ghere

Residents living in the Como neighborhood are upset because University staff park on the street in front of their homes.
“Parking is an issue with the residents,” said Bill Roberts, director of University Fleet Services.
Roberts and other members of Fleet Services attended the Feb. 2 meeting of the Southeast Como Improvement Association and heard firsthand many of the residents’ grievances toward the staff working in nearby University buildings.
“A lot of the people in those buildings moved to the streets when (the University) started charging them for parking a few years ago,” Roberts said.
Association members could not be reached for comment.
In 1995, the Como Avenue park-and-ride lot was made into a contract parking lot, replacing the free parking with a monthly fee.
Some employees at the printing services building, the hospital warehouse and other buildings in the area chose to park on the residential streets to avoid the added cost.
Community members are now asking the University to lower the parking rate or turn it back into a park-and-ride to accommodate the staff members, thereby regaining space on their streets.
The residents also suggested permanent employees receive stickers for free or lower-cost parking in the lot.
“It is based on a University policy that there is no free parking on campus for our facilities,” said Cari Hatcher, spokeswoman for Parking and Transportation Services.
She said the problem facing Como residents does not sound uncommon, but that the Minneapolis city streets are not within its jurisdiction.
University Relations Vice President Sandra Gardebring is talking to University departments to ascertain a solution; she will then provide a progress report to the association.
This is the first that this complaint had been heard from the residents of 27th Avenue, said Roberts.
“This is my fourth (association) meeting and this is the first I have heard of it,” he said.
The issue was intended to be brought up at the Feb. 11 Board of Regents meeting, according to the minutes of the association’s meeting, but was not on the regents’ agenda.
In addition to the parking issue, the association will be sending a letter to all University employees working in the Como area asking them to take the University Avenue/Highway 280 route to and from work to cut down on traffic through the neighborhood.