Ever since the city killed a bunch of on-street parking by widening Robert Street, homeowners on one West St. Paul street have been feeling the pinch.
According to Gil Gustafson and Michelle Pivec, next-door neighbors on Livingston Avenue, renters and visitors from the Emerson Hill apartment complex around the corner have been eating up much of the street parking. Both argue that Emerson's inadequate lot and West St. Paul's reconstruction of Robert Street have created the parking crunch.
With it has come vandalism and a recent break-in, according to Pivec. Gustafson told city leaders he now has to park a half-block away from his house, which "gets a little irritating."
The arguments were enough to convince the City Council. Last week, it approved a special 105-foot permit parking zone in front of Pivec and Gustafson's residences. A new ordinance that says it can "approve, modify or deny the permit parking zone in order to protest the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the city."
"I try to put myself in other people's shoes," council member Pat Armon explains. "Having people working on cars right in front of my house and leaving debris, I wouldn't want that."
The special permit is the first granted. It'll be given an eight-month test run. Violators will incur a $15 fine.
"Congratulations," Mayor David Mesisinger said after the vote. "You're going to be our test study.…"
Though the property owners must flip for $400 in signs, they neglected to mention they each have detached garages behind their houses.
Councilman John Bellows was aware of the garages, but he'd been told in both instances the households had more vehicles than garage space. Bellows is concerned the approval might summon others seeking their own parking zones.
"If it turns out to be more problematic, that there's more problems with it than benefits, we can always change it. But until you try it, you don't know what the results will be."