City Council OKs looser parking commission requirements, but still not Dunn with parking

Bloomington’s city council voted Wednesday night to relax some membership requirements of the parking commission, a move meant to make it more likely the commission has a full complement of nine members.

Cropped No Parking Dunn IMG_9764
Looking south on Dunn Street where one of the “no parking signs” would be removed, if a proposed change to the parking ordinance is approved. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

But the council postponed a couple of changes to the city’s parking code until its Aug. 14 meeting. The changes are bundled into the same legislation, so both changes were postponed, even though the council appeared ready to support one of them.

Councilmembers were in agreement on a change that added the south side of 17th Street between Walnut and Dunn to the newly established neighborhood parking permit Zone 6, in the Garden Hill neighborhood, west of the Indiana University football stadium.

But they hesitated to approve a change that would allow for parking on Dunn Street, between 6th Street and 10th Street.

Changes to the neighborhood parking permit zone will allow residents of single-family units on the south side of 17th Street, between Walnut and Dunn, to get a permit to park on streets in the neighborhood where parking is allowed. To dispel what he called rumors, Councilmember Steve Volan said several times that adding the south side of 17th Street to the permit zone will not add parking to 17th Street.

The creation of Zone 6 was one of several revisions to the city’s parking ordinance enacted by Bloomington’s city council at its Sept. 19 meeting last year, on a unanimous vote. Volan said the idea to add 17th Street’s south side to the zone came from someone who lives on 17th Street, who has no off-street parking available and was accustomed to parking on Washington or Lincoln streets. Volan said he consulted with the neighborhood, and heard no objections.

Proposed Dunn Street parking changes drew enough questions from councilmembers Jim Sims and Isabel Piedmont-Smith that the council decided to postpone consideration of the legislation until Aug. 14.

The proposal is eliminate some current no-parking restrictions on some blocks of Dunn Street. The blocks of Dunn between 6th and 10th would no longer have “no-parking signs.” The idea is to increase parking supply, and slow down traffic. According to the city’s planning and transportation staff, Volan said, the stretch is widely regarded as something of a speedway.

In his memo attached to the first reading packet material, Volan wrote: “Dunn Street between Tenth and Seventh Streets … has room to add to the neighborhood parking supply, which serves the University Village Overlay as well as the residences within the zones. Adding parking here would increase the supply while slowing down speeding car traffic.”

Questions from Sims drew out some details of the proposed parking configuration—it would reduce the street from two lanes to one, possibly with angled parking. Sims was skeptical that the one block between 9th and 10th streets was wide enough to accommodate both a lane for travel and a lane for parking. Volan referred to a lengthy report on a study done for the planning and transportation department, which he offered to provide. The report concludes that the two lanes are not necessary for capacity, but rather provide a convenience for drivers.

Piedmont-Smith questioned whether the exact wording of the legislation had its intended effect of allowing for parking on the east side of Dunn between 9th and 10th and on the west side of the street between 6th and 9th.

The combined weight of questions from the two councilmembers led to the decision to postpone. Before postponement, council president Dave Rollo asked that any additional questions be identified, so that answers could be found before next week.

Escaping postponement was the proposed loosening of the restrictions on membership requirements for the nine-member parking commission. The council voted to approve the relaxed membership requirements.

It’s been difficult to maintain a full complement of members since the commission’s formation in 2016. At Wednesday’s meeting, Piedmont-Smith said she knew as a member of the interview committee for the parking commission that it was difficult to find members.

Volan’s memo accompanying the proposal at first reading says, “The Commission has in its first two and a half years never had nine members present; it currently has three vacancies.” The scheduled commission meeting on July 25 was cancelled due to a lack of quorum.

Establishing the commission in 2016 required an override of Mayor Hamilton’s veto, which was done on a 9–0 vote. At Wednesday’s meeting, Volan thanked other councilmembers for supporting the commission.

The new criteria would eliminate the requirements that some members have an interest in an organization located in a downtown metered zone or live in a neighborhood parking permit zone. The new criteria would read as follows:

(1) One member appointed by the mayor and one member appointed by the common council shall be a merchant owning and operating a business located at an address within the city limits.
(2) One member appointed by the mayor shall be a board member or an employee of a non profit organization which operates at property that is owned or leased by the non profit organization and located within the city limits.
(3) Four members, two appointed by the mayor and two appointed by the council, shall be residents living within the city limits.
(4) One member appointed by the common council shall be from among its membership and
(5) One member appointed by the mayor shall be from within the transportation and traffic services division of the planning and transportation department.

Here’s the outcome of the rollcall votes taken at the meeting.

Motion Sturbaum Granger Chopra Rollo Piedmont-Smith Volan Ruff Sandberg Sims
Parking Ordnc: Am 1 add south side of 17th Street to Zone 6 yes absent absent yes yes yes yes yes yes
Postpone Parking Ordnc: As amended, 17th Street, Dunn Street  yes absent absent yes yes yes yes yes yes
Boards/Commissions: loosen membership reqs for parking commission yes absent absent yes yes yes yes yes yes