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Residential parking permits

Each city may use residential parking permits (RPPs) differently. Typically, RPPs are used when parking is so congested on a block due to increased activity from a commercial or mixed-use area that residents approach their elected officials asking for relief. There are many challenges to implementing a successful permit program. It is important to remember that RPP zones will not solve a parking crisis and should be used with caution. They should not be restricted for 24 hours a day, and  they should be priced to manage demand. 


The first challenge is to keep the parking available to a variety of drivers throughout the day so that the space is well-utilized. The priority of maintaining shared parking for the neighborhood includes residential streets that are close to mixed use areas. If the street is restricted 24 hours / day, a part-time employee cannot use the space while most residents are away.


The second challenge is to price the permits appropriately so that they do not become merely “hunting licenses.” In Chicao, neighbors petition their alderman and ask for an ordinance to create a permit designation. The annual permit is very cheap -- it ends up costing a resident about 17 cents per day, on top of city vehicle stickers. Given such a low cost, many people apply for permit passes, often for multiple cars. No one is tracking how many total RPPs are sold, as compared to how many spaces may exist. The number of spaces varies with the length of cars. Some RPP zones are in extremely high demand, and cars may spend late evenings driving around searching for a space. 


It would make sense if the price of permits varied with the length of the car. In areas with a shortage of parking, the price of a permit should increase for longer vehicles and increase exponentially for each additional vehicle in a household. This will help to encourage people to clean out garages and use them for parking cars instead of storing junk.


Some RPP designations have been used to temper opposition to new low-parking developments. In this case, the street with a new development can be zoned RPP and people living at the address of the development can be prevented from acquiring RPPs.  


Cities should limit the use of new RPP zones, and should not use 24-hour restrictions. Instead, RPP zones should restrict parking in the evening when most working people are returning from work and price the spaces to manage demand so that the residents that rely on the permit spaces are actually able to find a space when they need one.

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