Huntsville OK's parking compromise

Item File PhotoA no-parking sign sits at the corner of Avenue L 1/2 and 20th Street in the Avenues neighborhood, along with yellow curbs to signal to drivers no parking is allowed along the street. 

After two years of heated debate with homeowners, the Huntsville City Council has resolved — at least for the time being — the issue of restrictive parking in the Avenues near Sam Houston State University. 

The council voted Tuesday to amend parking restrictions that would not allow street parking in the direct area west of Sam Houston Avenue. This ordinance, which was originally passed in July 2017, would not even allow the homeowners to park in front of their house.

“Since paid parking was implemented along Bearkat Boulevard and Bobby K. Marks in August 2016, residents in the Avenues area to the west of Sam Houston Avenue have reported difficulty with driveway ingress/egress due to increased street parking,” city manager Aron Kulhavy said in his presentation. “It is also observed that vehicles are being parked too close to the intersection approaches in the area, causing sight distance issues and difficulty maneuvering through the intersections.”

To combat the issue, council implemented a yellow curb program for that section of the avenues, which restricted all parking – including the homeowner – 15-feet on either side of the driveway and 20-feet from intersections.

“This is a good thing to do as a compromise ... you can’t please everybody, but this is a good way to address issues that homeowners have had,” councilmember Paul Davidhizar said. When we started this program homeowners didn’t have an option, but now we are giving them an option to if they want people to be able to park in front of their homes. We still achieve the purposes of restricting congestion in avenues of college students, but this gives the property owners a choice.”

The new ordinance would still prohibit parking in all yellow curb areas within the district, but property owners will now have the option to request the city remove the yellow cubs on either side of the driveway, provided the areas don’t overlap safety zones.

Property owners will have a 60-day time frame to request removal of the yellow curbs, with no options to remove the yellow curbs after the window.

“If citizens have 60 days to decide that is the American way, not a bunch of politicians deciding what they can and can’t do,” councilmember Ronald Allen said. “We pass things up here all the time that have to revisit, but don’t stop doing the right thing if have to revisit it in the future. You don’t make decisions on what could happen in the future … you do what is best for the citizens now.”

The motion passed by a 5-3 vote with Clyde Loll, Mari Montgomery and Joe Rodriques voting against.

“We painted the curbs yellow to relieve congestion in that section of the avenues,” Rodriques said. “Before this police some streets were so congested that you couldn’t get your public safety vehicles through there. I guarantee that if it gets back to how it was the public safety officials and even the mail carriers will have difficulty getting down the roads.”

Any requests for removal from the yellow cub program must receive approval from the city managers’ office.