In the parking desert of Roxborough and Manayunk, Christine Schwartz says it's possible to find an oasis. Instead of endlessly hunting for parking spaces in her Roxborough neighborhood, Schwartz and her neighbors around Dexter and Cotton Streets easily find spots. The answer: resident permit-parking.
"You wouldn't believe it. You can actually find parking on your own block. It's crazy," she said Monday night at the Wissahickon Neighbors Civic Association.
Schwartz said her neighbors became fed up with endless driving and wanted to take back their block. So they applied with the Philadelphia Parking Authority, got 51 percent of neighbors to sign-on with their support and within two months in 2011, permit-parking was in effect.
For the narrow streets of Manayunk where the Wissahickon Neighbors preside, permit-parking has been civic President Andrew Bantly's white whale. In 2010, he similarly tried to get restricted parking on his block, but the city told him the area was too small and too far removed from Ridge Avenue or Main Street.
Expanding the goal, the civic association unsuccessfully attempted to put permit-parking in place. Although Philadelphia City Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. supported the measure, the PPA said the plan didn't align with the agency's protocol. Bantly said the time-consuming project fell by the wayside when residents disagreed as to how to handle certain aspects of the law: Who could apply? How many per household?
On Monday, residents showed renewed interest in a smaller scale version, more akin to the Dexter Street permit.
Rachel Wexler lives on East Street and described college students packed into homes, way beyond the legal limit.
"I totally understand what their doing, cramming all of them in there. But when their boyfriends, girlfriends come over, I don't care what happens to them. They can walk 10 blocks for all I care," she said.
Residents, like Wexler, expressed interest in petitioning blocks to impose 2-hour parking for those without residential passes, which will initially cost $35, with a recurring fee annually. The civic will discuss the idea more at its Oct. 1 meeting, where subcommittee could be revived.
Bantly warned residents that the issue involves a time commitment. People will have to apply to the PPA, petition residents—each household, whether a renter or owner can sign—for support or opposition, and work with the councilman's office. But it's an effort Wexler says is well worth it.
"It's no more of a time commitment than walking 20 blocks if you come home after 7 o'clock," she said.
The civic president said he had talked to Terrace Street residents about starting the process, and that a few blocks could get the balling rolling.
"Honestly, it only takes one or two blocks, and it's whole domino effect," Bantly said.