2014-03-14 / Front Page

Parking Changes Proposed

By Tom Shevlin

Parking in Newport could take on a new look if a proposal by city staff is put into action.

In a report developed by the Parking Continuous Improvement Committee and the Interdepartment Traffic Committee (ITC), City Manager Jane Howington has asked councilors to consider adopting a series of modifications to Newport's parking policies.

If approved, the new program would overhaul the city's residential parking program – eliminating certain residential passes, expanding resident-only parking, and installing meters along selected business corridors.

Perhaps the most significant change would be the expansion of the city's residential parking program to all non-arterial streets in the downtown core and portions of the old Fifth Ward, which staff hopes will reduce the parking-induced anxiety that can accompany life in Newport during the summer tourist season.

"The identified streets are in high density areas; with little to no offstreet parking and residential areas in mixed use or near major tourist sections of Newport," Howington said.

The new program would amend the city's guest parking pass program, introduce new student passes for Salve Regina University students, and eliminate the temporary parking permit and general visitor pass program.

It would also provide for 24-hour parking restrictions "only on the basis of public safety." Any new 24- hour restrictions would be authorized through the director of public safety with recommendations provided by the ITC.

Newport's residential parking program was authorized by the City Council to provide parking opportunities to residents on specific streets or districts that had documented parking deficiencies – most notably, the city's historic Point neighborhood.

Since then, the program has proliferated as dozens of streets have entered into the program over the past 20 years. "The result of this has moved parking overflow onto surrounding streets," Howington said.

"The current parking program provides for all residents of the city to secure a parking permit with proof of residency. Changes in land uses such as single-family conversions to multi-family have contributed to parking density challenges to the urban areas of the city with no (or little) off-street parking."

Compounding matters is the close proximity of these problematic areas to the city's commercial district.

Guest passes have been traditionally issued to properties in regulated zones, but they permit parking all over the city. "The regulation of guest passes is difficult and the perception from staff is that they have proliferated beyond the number that should be in circulation," Howington noted.

Finally, the city may also explore installing more meters to districts where time-limited parking is currently in place – specifically on Broadway and upper Spring Street.

"As the area continues adding and expanding businesses, parking turnover becomes increasingly important," Howington said. "The enforcement methodology is currently through a marking of tires and then a repeat to determine violations. To more effectively enforce turnover, the use of parking control measures would increase capabilities and space turnover. There are opportunities to review the viability of developing parking facilities in the Broadway, Spring and America's Cup areas. This type of improvement would provide additional off-street parking for visitors, resident overflow and guest parking."

In its meeting on Wednesday, March 12, the Council voted unanimously to schedule the proposals for a public workshop.

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