Historic district striping causes gripes and giggles

Historic district striping causes gripes and giggles

Standards followed despite alternative

Clearly a mistake, this striping pattern for parking on Lydia Street at King Street was corrected on March 19 after the error was brought to the attention of the Public Works Department. (Photo courtesy of Wayne Wood)

Unlike the wheels on cars zipping down the narrow streets of Riverside and Avondale, the wheels of government turn a lot more slowly.

Now, however, narrower travel lanes – thanks to new parking striping – may force motorists to drive just a little slower on residential streets.

It was three years ago, May 2012, when The Resident reported that a parking analysis for The Shoppes of Avondale was “put in neutral” until the $60,000 proposal could be reviewed and approved by the Planning and Development Department.

In May 2013 the Parking Study Steering Committee was convened to address a variety of parking issues – including that of blocking residents’ driveways – in the streets around The Shoppes of Avondale and the Park and King retail corridor.

The committee, composed of local business owners, residents and city officials, worked with consulting firm Ghyabi & Associates to provide a study that eventually resulted in solutions aimed at managing and increasing the parking supply, and modifying behavior.

The study was limited to a 16-block area around The Shoppes of Avondale and a 19-block area around the intersection of Park and King Streets, both commercial areas frequented by visitors to popular bars and restaurants.

“My understanding is that the striping was something agreed upon by both the residents and businesses involved in the study as a first step in managing and organizing the parking supply,” said Carmen Godwin, executive director of Riverside Avondale Preservation. “Many residents were concerned that their driveways were blocked and the police would not ticket cars unless the spaces were striped and/or marked in some way.”

Under Ordinance 2014-617, adopted last fall, finally last month the parking striping was completed in those commercial areas by the Public Works Department.

Alternative striping suggested

Primarily designed to alleviate homeowners’ frustrations with blocked driveways, the new parking “boxes” stick out like a sore thumb, according to some residents. Others are more concerned about the perceived decrease in parking, claiming that the boxes promote single car usage instead of space sharing, and that drivers now park closer to the center of the road rather than up against the curb, thus creating a narrower passage down certain “yield streets.”

When residents brought the issue to the attention of District 14 Councilman Jim Love in early March, Love said that he would talk to Director of Public Works Jim Robinson to see if any changes could be made.

Unfortunately, by the time the issue was brought up with Robinson, all the designated streets but one were striped, according to Aleizha Batson, deputy director of communications. “All streets are completed, other than Pine, which has JEA construction that prohibits the work from being completed,” she noted on Mar. 24.

Love agreed that the striping does make the street look narrower, but it was done according to standards, which direct the width of the boxes, the distance from a driveway and whether there is no parking, one-sided or two-sided street parking.

Kay Ehas, chair of the Parking Study Steering Committee said that the committee had provided an alternative striping design to Public Works, which basically omits the longer white line parallel to the curb.

“I don’t know why they changed it,” Ehas said, “but the feedback I’ve heard is that the resident like it. This was the agreed-upon solution and had the least amount of negative feedback in the public meetings. It’s a pilot; let’s see how it works.”

Love concurred. “Right now I’m letting it settle in before we consider any tweaking,” he said. “The people who are happier now are those who used to have their driveways blocked.”

He also noted that intersections now have better visibility by prohibiting parking right up to the corners of the streets. “My goal was safety first, then not having driveways blocked,” Love stated. “But we will listen to any concerns.”

Lydia Street error cause for clamor

While some people saw the humor in striping on Lydia Street at King which created one lane running directly down the double yellow lines, others saw it as yet more evidence that the city does not understand the special considerations of a historic district built before automobiles were affordable and popular for every homeowner.

RAP founder Dr. Wayne Wood, who lives not far from Lydia Street, felt the city could have done a better job. “It was well intended but poorly executed,” Wood said recently. “That particular street was probably the most egregious, but in many cases where the streets are narrow with parking indicated on both sides, there is no room for cars to pass without pulling into the parking spaces.”

Wood said that the striping could have been customized to fit the streets, including the use of corner marks instead of full boxes or, alternatively, marking driveways to prohibit illegal parking.

According to Love, the diagram provided to city workers incorrectly identified Lydia Street for two-sided parking instead of just one.

About a week later the problem had been corrected – somewhat. Rather than completely painting over the white and yellow lines with a camouflage gray paint, city workers “roughed up” the asphalt to partially obliterate the lines, leaving only a parking box on the east side of Lydia Street.

“When driving around Avondale [recently], I noticed some cars were still parking illegally. Drivers visiting the commercial corridor should try to be responsible and courteous when parking on residential streets,” Godwin shared. “However, I did notice on Pine Street, where there is parking on just one side of the street, how much calmer the traffic was and how nice it is to be able to see the beautiful historic homes with the street less crowded by cars.”

What do you think?

Do you live on a newly striped street? How is that working for you so far? Feel free to send your comments for future publication about street striping – good or bad – to [email protected]

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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