Comment of the Day: Parking Equality

COMMENT OF THE DAY: PARKING EQUALITY “Public street Parking Permits should be illegal. The City should not be allowed to give a select few individuals exclusive rights to use public property. I’m surprised no one has sued the COH over this ridiculous practice. What if a neighborhood group signed a petition to only allow themselves to use the local public park, public pool, or public jogging trail because they were too crowded with “outsiders”? Public means public. If you want private use of the street then buy it or build you own. Our taxes pay for all the public streets and all of us should be able to drive or park legally on them whenever we please.” [Jon, commenting on Comment of the Day: Street Parking in the Heights]

27 Comment

  • Ugh. The answer to everything is not “buy it yourself.” I am so tired of this ridiculous refrain!

    I am generally not a huge supporter of permit parking. I don’t think we have reached a point where we need it in Houston. Still, assigned parking or permitted parking is used in pretty much every major city where parking is at a premium. With the increased density happening all over Houston, it’s probably going to need to happen at some point. If it doesn’t, people won’t be able to park at their own houses. That would be far more egregious than not letting strangers park there so they can get drunk and piss on your lawn later (Washington Ave, anyone?). It isn’t about being exclusive. To say as much means you are just trying to make a point about a group of people you think you don’t like, i.e. Woodland Heights residents, rather than consider the real issue.

  • I disagree Jon. Streets public nature is for travel, not parking. That they are also convenient for someone to park on is merely a perk, not the purpose. Many streets you are not allowed to park on at all because it would impede the flow of traffic. Other streets have parking meters to control the amount of parking spaces available. Residential parking permits do not abridge the primary public reason for streets, to get from point A to point B, they merely restrict the secondary use of the streets for curb side parking. It is not illegal to do so and precedent of many cities would show that a lawsuit would be thrown out pretty quickly. The discrimination against non-residents versus residents is not nearly aggregious enough to warrant a public concern. As for the public park argument, the city would not be able to allow a single group of citizens to thwart the primary purpose of the public park by making it quasi-private. That would be an aggregious hurt to the public.

  • …and drive on them however we please!

  • I have never thought about parking permits like this before. But now that Jon brings it up I totally agree. How do you make something that is public and paid for by the taxpayers, “private” for a few?

  • Tell that to the toll road authority.

  • In the case of 10th Street, there are 2 apparently very successful restaurants that were built with insufficient parking. Fortunately, the restaurants appear to have made other arrangements to park patrons’ cars. On 10th or any residential street, backing out of your driveway with cars parked on both sides of it plus across the street is hazardous. Car doors slamming and conversations late at night are serious annoyances, and after 10pm, can be reason to call the police.

  • While this comment sounds “fair” on the surface, explore further and one can see why parking permits started.

    AFAIK, the first ever COH parking permits were issued for Southampton (yes, those crazy Ashby Hi-Rise snobs) several years ago. Rice Univ students started parking in our neighborhood when Rice raised the daily parking fees. Despite pleas from Rice, it became an overwhelming problem. There were so many students parking in SH that streets were solid–100% full–of Rice cars. Literally no spaces on the streets for residents.

    It’s one thing to have a neighborhood parking problem; it’s another to have -zero- ability for residents to park. So the Civic Club & the COH got together, and created a permit parking solution.

    We pay for our permits, so there is zero cost to the city. And they limit how many we can have; one per vehicle, with proof required for each vehicle permit requested.

    While I understand your original comment, look at it from our POV. Daily transients were preventing us from parking, and this solved the problem.

  • Car doors slamming and conversations late at night are serious annoyances, and after 10pm, can be reason to call the police.
    “Officer, it is 10:30 right now and people keep opening and closing their car doors outside my house! It’s anarchy out there!…hello?…HELLO?????” :)

  • i think the only exception should be to grandfather in neighborhoods with lots of multi-family homes that were built 80-yrs ago, but there’s no reason for more recent/remodeled neighborhoods to not have enough sufficient parking for themselves and guests on their property.

    at some point people have to realize that the fact of not having any decent public transportation in this city affects more than just poor folks. what do you think people do in the other big cities in this country do, they ride the bus/take a taxi or expect to fight for parking and walk 1/4 mile to the house they need to get to. just because you live in houston doesn’t mean you’re entitled to curbside convenience.

  • and to note, i always think of those new townhomes on lovett. they implemented permit parking next to their homes (despite never using the street) so the parking traffic was shifted to other people’s homes and a profit center was opened up for tow trucks to patrol regularly while that part of the street goes unused. as a taxpayer that’s a pretty annoying waste of the cities resources.

    if you think permit parking is a good idea, then you have to think parking meters are a much much better idea for the city and the 2.5MM folks that live here as well.

  • if you think permit parking is a good idea, then you have to think parking meters are a much much better idea for the city and the 2.5MM folks that live here as well.

    actually I’ve seen parking meters next to permit spaces so you either have to have a permit or feed the meter. For certain parts of town this could be a really good idea.

  • why couldn’t the folks in SH park in their driveways? If their driveways were full, then why should they have more of a right to park on the street than others that live nearby?

    you own your land and can do with it what you want, but we all pay for the street. you could put in a circle drive in front if it was a big issue, but it doesn’t seem to me like you should be able to prevent someone else from using the street when they payed for it too.

  • Just another view,the home owner is responsible,for keeping the street clean from leaves,trash,etc.,in front of their property and side if they live on a corner.

  • For residential streets where many of the homes don’t have adequate off-street parking, the addition of a few popular restaurants can be a real inconvenience for residents.
    That said, given a choice between allowing street parking or requiring massive concrete parking lots for every new restaurant that opens, I’d prefer the street parking.
    The city’s minimum parking requirements are why so much of Houston is taken up by shadeless multi-acre expanses of asphalt. If we allowed the price mechanism to be applied to parking in (more parts of) our fair city, maybe more people would carpool or take a taxi.

  • LiT,

    Parking is a natural consequence of travel. If the street is to be used for parking, it should not be reserved for only a few citizens, whether they happen to live there or not. I don’t really care what San Francisco does.

  • All of you folks who seem to think that permit or resident-only parking is a bad idea…please tell us where you live…future bar owners are always looking for friendly new locations, and obviously you won’t care if noisy drunks park in front of your house and block your driveway on a nightly basis!

  • Bubbas, listen up. The city does not GIVE the right to property owners to restrict the streets they live on, they SELL the right to property owners to restrict the streets they live on. The city wins revenues, the property owners win convenience. Its pretty much the definition of market capitalism and it exists in pretty much EVERY municipality. GAH. Economics 101.

  • The majority of the houses in Southampton don’t have driveways. Very few properties there have any paving in the front of the house. It’s part of the charm. I’d imagine that if the houses there did have circular driveways, parking pads, and street facing garages, the live oak canopy would disappear. Kudos to Southampton residents for fighting to preserve their neighborhood (why are private property rights so sacred but collective property rights of a group of neighbors so frowned upon?)

  • UG — i live in montrose and have folks lining both sides of my street at all times because of the duplexes around me. i don’t suspect it could get much worse. i simply park in the drive way.

    as for SH, I don’t know why i should subsidize SH homeowners that don’t want to have driveways (for the record, several of those streets have back alleys). that’s their decision, but they need to live with the consequences, which SHOULD be that they have to find a place to park on the public street like everyone else.

  • Anon, that’s not capitalism, it’s sole source contracting and is illegal by internal standards of any respectable company as it’s an obvious way to lose money. it makes for lazy governing and only delays the problem until we finally have to deal with it, not smart.

    and doofus, collective property rights of neighborhoods are generally frowned upon once they restrict the fair use of publicly paid for infrastructure such as in the case you cite. i honestly haven’t seen any parts of southampton that don’t have driveways though so i find it hard to believe that statement applies to the majority of the area.

    and UG, you’re not going to get anywhere asking where us opposing permit parking is because we already live in some of the most well traveled areas. i’m always dealing with people parking outside my house (and those ignorant critical mass folks last weekend) and i see no issue. if i have guests that can’t park in the driveway then they can park their lazy butts at the end of the street and walk or just stay home for all i care. we’re not talking about people being denied access to their homes, just people bitching about having to park a block over and actually walk to their place, i know…my god, the horror.

  • The original poster is right. It’s a slippery slope issue. Once we cross the line to start making public property private, we’re on the road to giving up what sense of commonality we still balance our tottering civilization on. As we reach the limits of our resources including space, we have to either learn to live together as equals or take the first steps towards total class division and eventual class warfare.

    It’s the thin edge of the wedge. A line in the sand must be drawn. Public is sacred, and rich people don’t deserve to grab what is public for themselves alone.

    And PS, Anon, Economics class was rigged- a total one-sided and ideological view of the world. Let’s put fantasy aside and get back the reality of inequality in this world. Ideology is only going to make things worse.

  • It’s Tony Mandola’s. In a week everyone will remember his food hasn’t evolved in 20 years and the people in that ugly ass condo building will get their precious street parking back.

  • The thing that worries me most about the COH’s use of Permit Parking, besides that I think it blatantly unethical and wrong, is that its use represents a failure to address real issues. Compared to Boston, NY, Chicago, SFO, and other incredibly dense (and mostly landlocked) cities that use this practice, Houston doesn’t come close to needing this “solution”. No neighborhood in Houston has the density of these cities, or the parking issues of these cities, and if you think we do – you need to get out of Texas more.
    If Houston is reacting this way now, we are going to be royally screwed when real urban density is a reality here.

  • To htownproud:

    Addressing your issues: Southampton is 100% alleys. While some homes have driveways, the vast majority don’t. However, residents park in their garages, not on the streets. The reason for the permit parking was not so WE would have a place to park, it’s so guests, service trucks, mailmen, etc could find a place to park.

    It’s one thing to have a restaurant or store create parking problems; at least people come & go. Our problem was Rice students; they would get there at 8am, park and not move until 5pm. Our entire neighborhood was clogged all day with cars that never moved. Not just inconvenient, but dangerous. Difficult for emerg vehicles to drive down streets.

    Permit parking solved our problem.

  • Joel- It’s clear you do not know where Southampton is if you make the nutty claim that you haven’t seen any parts of the area without driveways. I live in Southampton in a house that was built in the 1920s. I use the alley and park in my detached garage like 85% of my neighbors. Again, most people don’t realize it, but it is why so many people love the area (older homes, live oak canopies, and an alley system that keeps the street view prettier than 99% of the rest of Houston).

  • People are what makes the city life what it is. So you don’t want people parking in front of your property at 10pm? Move to the burbs where 2-3 car garages are the norm.

  • I think permit parking was the only solution the city offered, so the neighbors take what they can get. I personally don’t subscribe to the permit parking as I have a driveway, and would be fine with no parking for anyone during peak hours. I think everyone has a good point pro and con. The only time I have issues with some one parking in front of my house is on garbage day, preventing garbage pick up.
    The real solution has to come from the Venues and Neighbors working together for a satisfactory solution. How many times a week will it take to find a car parked across your driveway, valets performing U turns in the intersections or the street is one way traffic only (because of parking congestion), before the limited option of permit parking starts looking attractive?!