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Cottonwood Heights Journal

City to change on-street parking permit procedure

Apr 30, 2022 09:47AM ● By Cassie Goff

By Cassie Goff | [email protected]

Cottonwood Heights will be changing their procedure for residential on-street parking permits. Currently, on-street parking permit areas are originated by a resident petition or city council authority. The city’s plan is to appeal the whole petition process in attempts to create a more balanced approach to parking on streets throughout the city.

“We need to amend of repeal Chapter 11.22 (Parking Permit Program) of the City Code,” said Community and Economic Development Director Michael Johnson on March 22. “The purpose of the ordinance is to provide preferential treatment when competing with commuter vehicles for on-street parking in residential neighborhoods.”

An on-street permit parking area is identified and regulated when a facility within a residential area attracts non-residential commuters. Such facilities increase population in the area and demand of on-street parking. In doing so, it exacerbates a shortage of on-street parking for residents within the area. Examples of such facilities may be schools or other large amenities or buildings.

“When these permit areas are created, it can push parking further into other areas resulting in additional parking areas outside of those originally approved,” City Manager Tim Tingey said.

“There are technically three on-street parking permit areas within the city right now. Two areas with three permits,” Johnson said.

The second on-street parking permit area approved by the city council expanded the area of the first permit area. On a geographical map, the area encompasses the same neighborhoods even though they are technically two different permits.

Councilmember Scott Bracken mentioned the Cottonwood Heights Rec Center as such a facility. During the summer, the Rec Center draws much commuter traffic for those visiting the outdoor pool and dive tank. The commuters would park within the surrounding neighborhoods which limited on-street parking for the residents living there.

Instead of creating an on-street parking permit area for the neighborhoods surrounding the Rec Center, the city put up signs regulating parking only within certain hours.

The current procedure for implementing a residential on-street permit parking area includes meeting certain criteria. A resident petition including signatures from the majority of neighbors living in the affected area must be submitted to the city. When a petition is filed, city staff members review the application to determine if the area is eligible and make a recommendation to the city council. Then, the city council must vote to either approve or deny the creation of an on-street parking permit area.

Councilmember Shawn Newell believes there needs to be a route for residents to be able to address and elevate such concerns. However, he recognizes “there are some unforeseen challenges that play into allowing these permits.”

Councilmember Ellen Birrell agreed with Tingey that on-street parking permit areas seem to have more of a band-aid effect instead of addressing ways to implement lower traffic citywide.

The councilmembers were mostly in agreement about having options for residents when encountering commuter traffic in neighborhood areas, but they would ultimately like to keep public streets available for public use. The council was ultimately in favor of appealing this process and creating a more blanket-style approach.

The new ordinance will not allow for the creation of an on-street parking permit area by either resident petition or council authority. Instead, the city council will only be able to modify permit parking areas following a specified process (and those previous on-street parking permit areas will be grandfathered in).