Sign of the times: businesses and city officials meet over contentious parking signs
Businesses on W. Broad Street met Friday with city officials and residents to determine the best way to deal with complaints over recent ticketing.
Residents and city officials held a meeting last Friday to address complaints from Grace Street residents and Broad Street businesses about the recent no-parking enforcement issues. Residents argue that late night no-parking signs on Broad Street have affected on-street parking on Grace. Businesses contend that the signs have led to a decrease in their revenue. Many residents and businesses think the late night parking signs on Broad Street are unnecessary and should be changed or removed.
The meeting was held at The Empress and led by West Grace Street Association president Alyse Auernheimer. Representatives from several local businesses attended: Assante’s Pizza, the Republic, the Camel (whose owner was recently arrested in connection to this issue), and others. Also present were a number of city officials from the Department of Public Works, Richmond City Police, and City Council.
President Auernheimer wanted the group to propose legitimate suggestions for changing the signs. “We did not fire people up. We just want it dealt with,” she said. As has been reported previously, many of the parking rules on Broad Street exist to deal with “cruising.” Cruising hasn’t been an issue for a while, says Auernheimer, and as such the rules should change.
“I think it’s a killer for small business,” said City Council candidate Charlie Diradour (2nd District), who attended to show support for an overhaul of the parking restrictions.
The agenda contained three clear recommendations for how to alter the signs:
- Removal of the 11pm-to-4am restrictions along W. Broad Street.
- Remove the no parking signs along Allen Avenue.
- Remove or relocate the “here to corner” parking restriction signs along W. Grace Street.
Major Mike Shamus and Captain Michael Snawder attended as representative of the Richmond Police to inform the public of their safety concerns. “There’s still cruising going on,” said Maj. Shamus. “The 11pm – 4am signs give us a tool to deal with it.”
The police contend that removing the signs might lead to an increase in cruising, which was a problem in the late 1990s before the signs were installed. They said that enforcement has not been an issue until recently.
“This most recent string of events was because of a complaint,” said Capt. Snawder. The signs are there as an enforcement option should a problem arise. “We don’t have the resources to have 24/7 enforcement,” Snawder said. “It’s not that there has been no enforcement, but that it’s been sporadic.” The recent emphasis on enforcement, which resulted from a business complaint, began on June 4th.
Capt. Snawder said he instructed his officers that there would be no blanket ticketing. Instead, ticketing would come from direct requests by the public. Maj. Shamus, when asked how long this policy would be in effect, responded that that isn’t really the right question.
He said the policy to ticket as a response to a complaint, called “directed patrol,” has been the general policy of the police on Broad Street for a long time. Maj. Shamus commented that, even recently, the Richmond Police attached fliers to offending cars, informing drivers and local businesses of the planned enforcement a week prior to implementation.
For now, steps have been taken to update the rules, but in what way has still not been decided.
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As citizens our only tool to have the government heed our requests is to force that request through intentional acts of free will. Make it a point to park en masse in this zone during the restrictions, organize and coordinate the community to prevent blanket ticketing, if all else fails sit in the street until they take the signs away. That’s not that radical or extreme, it’s your right and tools under the constitution to impart the working class influence on the laws fored upon people.
This is so ridiculous. Who knows better than the owners of the establishments whether cruising is a problem or not? Just take the signs down, which would take all of ONE DAY. If it doesn’t work and there is a problem with cruising then just put them back up. It’s that simple. Why must everything with the city be such a struggle? What’s better, open, thriving businesses or blocks of empty storefronts?
Well said, Brett.
One need only weigh the known benefit against the potential risk. We know that businesses would benefit from having more convenient parking, and that W. Grace Street will benefit from somewhat of an alleviation of a parking shortage. Versus, cruising possibly becoming a problem again.
How about this for an idea?
Replace the “No Parking” signs with “No Cruising” signs and let the enforcement of THOSE be “directed patrol”. The businesses affected by the outcome have a vested interest in the area remaining safe and attractive for citizens to visit, socialize and spend money so it seems logical that they would be vigilant in helping root out any unsavory element that might be tempted to cause trouble in the area.
Why are we punishing the majority of law-abiding citizens and businesses because of a small minority of potential criminals? This seems like a no-brainer to me.