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Short North Parking Study Meeting Recap

by David Carey

short north at night

image via ShortNorth.org

On April 24, 2014, city representatives met to discuss preliminary findings of the Short North Parking Study. The study’s early results—including survey findings, consultant observations and a few very tentative conclusions—were presented. More concrete proposals can be expected as this information is analyzed. A second open house will be held on May 15, 2014 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Goodale Shelter House in Goodale Park. The public is invited to comment on the study results at this meeting. A few notes from the meeting are below along with a “draft” map and public meeting comments.

Short North Parking Study Meeting

The meeting began with a summary of comprehensive survey results. Attendance was very good; the audience consisted of a mix of area employees and visitors, so plenty of useful data came out of the meeting. A few highlights:

  • Sixty-one percent of High Street/Short North customers utilize on-street parking for an average of two to three hours.
  • Many customers go to three or more destinations in a single visit.
  • Employees, on average, report parking closer to their destinations than customers do.
  • Customers report spending a longer time searching for parking than employees do; whether or not they are accurate, such reports reflect customer perception. Seventy-seven percent of customers (and 66 percent of employees) report that at some time they did not find parking and left the area.
  • Local residents are more willing to walk to and in the district than visitors from outside the Short North area. One of the pressing reasons for streamlining parking is the loss of business from visitors who aren’t used to parking/walking in an urban environment and thus have less tolerance for it.

High Street Summary

  • Parking is, not surprisingly, pretty available around 8–10 a.m. on Thursday.
  • By 4 p.m., the southern end of High Street is far more clogged.
  • By 6 p.m., parking is saturated from West 3rd Avenue to Goodale Street, as are the first couple blocks on side streets east and west of High Street.
  • Demand for parking on High Street continues after 10 p.m., which is the time that metered parking becomes free. One option that might be worth exploring is starting meter coverage later in the day and extending it past 10 p.m.

Harrison West/Victorian Village Summary

  • Similar patterns develop in the Harrison West and Victorian Village areas, but they see more “pockets” of parking congestion in the morning to midday time period. Parking in these areas consists especially of overflow from the Wexner Medical Center and is focused especially around The Circles. These pockets dissipate from 1 to 5 p.m.
  • The pattern from 6 until 10 p.m. is similar to that seen on High Street, but permit areas are significantly less occupied than nonpermit areas. It is possible that permit restrictions force people to park in congested areas such as the area around Dennison Avenue. Neil Avenue is generally not very busy.

Preliminary Conclusions

The following information is still being absorbed and digested, but a few very preliminary conclusions are emerging.

  • Residential areas are not as busy as expected, generally speaking.
  • Issues in busy areas are far worse in the evening than they are in the daytime, and they’re getting worse. Residential growth will exacerbate these challenges.
  • Private lots usually have availability.
  • Utilization is very high south of West 2nd Avenue near High Street with only a few isolated issues in the residential areas.
  • Customers in the High Street area are generally adaptable to parking challenges. They park in once place and stay for an extended period and are willing to walk some.

Preliminary Recommendations

A few policy recommendations and thoughts—again very preliminary—are also developing.

  • Pretty much everyone involved thinks some changes are necessary to the permit system. It is possible that such changes may involve reducing the number of unique area permits by combining permit zones. The current system results in enormous block-by-block discrepancies.
  • Most customers in the district (especially those visiting High Street) seem to care more about increasing ease and convenience than about lowering or maintaining costs for parking.
  • Many audience members expressed an interest in maintaing or extending meter time limits. They feel generally that three hours works well and are willing to pay more to be able to park longer. The obvious conclusions are to extend meter duration where it is less than three hours and possibly to increase meter rates in key areas.
  • There is some room for growth in the daytime population by, for example, adding new businesses such as small grocery stores and offices that rely on daytime usage.
  • Employees are using a significant amount of parking close to high-demand areas. Employers might consider incentives to encourage employees to park farther away.
  • COTA’s CBUS investment should alleviate some pressure in the High Street area. CBUS is the kind of program that is often found on parking consultants’ wish lists, but we already have it ready to go, which is a very good thing.
  • Parallel parking spaces are much larger than they need to be (~26 feet vs. a more typical 20 feet or even 17 feet in very dense urban areas).  Block by block, parking can be maximized by shrinking these spaces. That said, survey results show a general consensus that people in this area are poor parallel parkers.

 

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