The City Council today will consider a proposal to prohibit street parking on Stuart Drive in an effort to minimize auto thefts, discourage street vendors, and improve traffic safety in the neighborhood.
Police say that as many as 180 vehicles are parked on both sides of the street on any given night, 35 more than the street can accommodate, according to a traffic study. The tight squeeze has caused a safety hazard for pedestrians, especially children, walking into traffic from between parked cars.
In addition, drug dealers often use vehicles parked on the street to hide from police and sell drugs, police said. In a report to the council, Police Chief Stanley L. Knee said that unless the parking problem is solved, the neighborhood will deteriorate further, driving property values down.
About 2,000 people live in 51 apartments along the 1,800-foot stretch of Stuart Drive. Last year, the Police Department converted one apartment to a police substation with two full-time police officers.
But while the crime rate and number of requests for police assistance have declined, Knee said prohibiting on-street parking will help discourage gang activity, drug-dealing and drive-by shootings.
It will also offer children in the neighborhood a place to play. The nearest park is about a mile away and there are no recreational facilities nearby, he said.
If the proposal is approved, residents, apartment owners and managers will be notified at least 30 days before the parking restrictions are implemented. Violators will be warned, instead of cited, during the first 30 days of the parking ban.
A "No Parking" sign will be placed on the north and south curbs of Stuart Drive.
A survey in September indicated that sufficient off-street parking is available in the apartment complexes along Stuart Drive, Knee said. A total of 575 spaces were counted, but many of the garages were being used for storage, or people were living in them, he said.
Knee said city code officials are working with the apartment owners and managers to make the garages available for parking.