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Overnight parking could get a bit easier

Shorewood officials looking at issuing permits online

Aug. 12, 2009

Shorewood — Getting a permit to park overnight on village streets could become less of a hassle soon.

As part of a comprehensive plan to address the difficulties of finding on-street parking, village officials are considering allowing those who want the coveted permits to get them online instead of having to go to the police station for them.

The village requires residents who want to park on the street on Monday through Friday to purchase the $3 permits at the police station. Someone who wants to park five nights a week, for example, has to go to the station each night for the permit. Vehicle owners get 10 free overnight permits per year, but after that they have to purchase them.

Last year, more than 48,000 vehicles received permits to park on the streets overnight. And every weeknight, about 40 to 50 people go to the police station to buy a permit.

That could change as village officials are looking at allowing people to get the permits online, most likely for five days at a time. The fee for permits would likely increase to $4 a night and could also include a 50-cent charge for Internet access.

As part of the online program, people also would be able to pay their parking tickets online.

"That would eliminate a lot of work for the (police) clerk," Police Chief David Banaszynski said. The clerk would then have time to try to match residents' parking needs with available spot in various lots.

Idea has some support

And those who get parking permits seem to like the idea of going online. In a spot survey of 38 people who went to the police station on July 16 to purchase permits, 35 said they would use the Internet to get a permit if it was available. And 37 said they would be interested in a monthly permit, while 34 like the idea of a quarterly permit.

Issuing permits online is just one of the ideas the village is reviewing as it tries to develop a comprehensive plan to make it easier for residents - primarily those who live in apartments - to find a place to park.

"We need to have night parking relief for people who live in apartments," Village Manager Chris Swartz said. "We can't have people get tickets all the time."

"The apartment dwellers have the biggest issues," Police Chief David Banaszynski told a Village Board committee Monday. Parking at some of the older apartment buildings in the village is either nonexistent or limited.

"I think what has changed is that everyone has a car," added Trustee Margaret Hickey. "If you have college kids in an apartment, everyone has a car."

Lots too far away for some

Most of those who go the police station for permits live on Oakland, Murray and Prospect avenues, Capitol and Wilson drives, and Beverly Road. Some parking is available by permit in certain public and private parking lots, including the lot at Village Hall.

But the hours during which parking is allowed in those lots or their location does not meet the needs of some.

"There are not lots near Beverly and Prospect," Hickey said. "It's six blocks to parking."

The distance to those parking lots apparently discourages some people from using them. Instead, they prefer to go through the process of getting a permit every night.

Swartz explained after the meeting that the village has had a pilot parking program on Oakland Avenue in which permits are sold directly to apartment landlords, who made them available to tenants. That added 45 to 50 on-street spots for those people.

"It worked very well on the north end of Oakland (north of Capital Drive)," he said.

"We expanded it to the south end of Oakland and to Capital, Murray and Wilson," Swartz said. "The larger building owners bought the permits, but the smaller ones did not."

The committee would like to free up those permits for those who will use them as well as find ways to move cars off the street and into parking lots when possible.

Banaszynski plans to bring a proposal back to the Streets and Building Committee in September, based on the survey results and the discussion at the committee.

"We need a comprehensive program," Swartz said. "This has been piecemeal for too long."

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