As the city looks to roll out Eastside section residential permit parking — which was approved by the municipal council almost six months ago to guarantee parking to residents whose spaces were being taken by customers of Bonfire nightclub — a band of East 39th Street residents are circulating petitions to halt the measure’s implementation.
Samoya Bailey, an East 39th Street resident, collected more than 60 signatures from residents of her block and East 38th Street. She told council members last Tuesday that majority of residents on both blocks oppose the implementation of permit only parking.
Council members approved an ordinance in July creating a residential permit parking zone on both streets: East 38th Street between Market Street and 21st Avenue and East 39th Street between Market Street and Vreeland Avenue.
The measure resulted from residents’ complaint about lack of parking in the area as patrons of the popular Bonfire Mofongo House and Lounge occupied parking spaces while creating disturbance in the neighborhood at night.
The ordinance bars non-permit holders from parking on both blocks from Friday 5 p.m. through Saturday 8 a.m. And Saturday 5 p.m. through Monday 8 a.m.
Bailey claimed the residents of the two blocks were not all notified of the new residential permit parking. She said she learned about it just this month when the city posted a notice on the street to urge residents to get their residential parking permit.
The city posted a notice on the street on December 8th to urge residents to gather for a meeting to obtain their permit on December 9th, 2015, she said. She thought the city could have done a better job by posting the notification much earlier.
The city advertises an ordinance multiple times prior to its adoption. The council discussed the measure for more than a month in multiple meetings prior to adopting the measure in July following a public hearing.
“The council has passed an ordinance stating we want residential parking permits and we do not,” said Samoya. “We want this law to be repealed. We don’t want this. We don’t want to be penalized for living where we chose to live.”
“If the majority of folks in the community do not want this change then those voices should be heard and their concerns should be addressed,” council president William McKoy, who represents the 3rd Ward, where the two blocks are located.
McKoy said the measure resulted from several meetings. He said police received many complaints from residents. He said there were video clips of individuals yelling on the street late at night. There were disorderly individuals urinating on lawns, blocking driveways, and disturbing the quality of life for the residents, according to residents who vehemently complained to McKoy and the council until the residential permit parking measure was passed.
McKoy called for a meeting with residents to resolve some of the concerns. He said the city could put a temporary hold on the implementation.
“Stop this pilot program,” said Alex Mendez, councilman at-large.
Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large, who proposed the residential parking measure, said the ordinance can be amended to exclude East 39th Street.
Bailey said the strongest opposition to the residential permit only parking stemmed from East 38th Street tenants and homeowners. She said some residents could not obtain permits in mid-December because their vehicles were not registered.
Bailey also expressed concerns about possible fees for the permits. City officials said residents will not be charged under the pilot program. The program is to be tested in the two Eastside section blocks before it can be expanded to other parts of the city.
Morris said if East 39th Street is excluded then those who dwell on that block will likely experience the same issues as residents on East 38th Street. For, he said, the parking problems will simply move to the nearby block.
“If we got it wrong for lack of input we can fix it,” said McKoy.