We’re not here to advocate for either side in the never-ending Heights-residents-versus-bars argument, but we are in favor of parking in front of our houses.
Recently the Old Sixth Ward Neighborhood Association filed for residential parking permits on streets – such as Decatur Street and Kane Street– near popular bars and restaurants. This would ensure residents could park in front of their houses instead of fighting for spaces with patrons of Pandora, The Drake, Beaver’s Ice House and other nearby hot spots.
“[At Beaver’s], customers are parking along Decatur in the neighborhood at, you know, dinner time and so when someone comes home from work … the street is completely congested,” OSWNA President Phil Neisel tells Hair Balls. “When the street is taken, you kind of have to drive around and look for a [parking] place somewhere else.”
!n some cases, he adds, homeowners are parking blocks away from their houses.
We know what you’re thinking: Ever hear of a driveway? Neisel says that many of the properties in the area weren’t built with cars in mind.
“Either the lots are too narrow for a driveway or the house is too wide for a driveway or there was a driveway at one time and it’s not being used a driveway anymore,” he says.
Lots aren’t the only things that are too narrow.
“It’s hard for cars to get through when people park on both sides of the streets like they do. Only one car can get through. In fact, emergency vehicles would not be able to get through,” Neisel says.
To date there have not been any cases of problems with emergency vehicles. “But it’s still a concern.” Uh, yeah. No one wants to hear "An ambulance will be on its way once the owner of a Blue Mercedes with the license plate RU4 SEX moves his vehicle."
Neisel says in other areas problems also occur after the bars close and drunkies head to their vehicles (instead of, you know, a cab).
“You have a large population of people who have been drinking, leaving the bars and going to their cars and, this is no slam on them, but they have had a few drinks and they’re loud and some of them use the restroom in people’s yard and some of them get in fights,” Neisel says.
The combination of all this stuff led the OSWNA to file for residential parking, but the requests were rejected because they don’t meet many of the city's requirements – most notably that 75 percent of the block must be residential. (Along Decatur and Kane there are a lot of businesses and residences side-by-side.)
Neisel says currently OSWNA is considering challenging the definition of a residential street.
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“We have not approached anyone at the city about this [yet]. So if [the city reads] your article it will be a bit of surprise to them,” Neisel says and laughs. “But that’s okay because we’re going to talk to them.”
For now Neisel says the bars are doing as much as they can to accommodate residents, including hiring an off-duty officer to patrol the area between midnight and 3 a.m.
Here’s hoping the cops learn how to maneuver down one-lane-wide streets in the midst of drunken mayhem.
— Dusti Rhodes