TUESDAY, Aug. 10 — An ordinance that bans residents from parking overnight on city streets without a paid permit could be erased as the Lansing City Council looks to dismantle a paid permit system launched this year and to open up local streets for free parking from 2 to 5 a.m.
Council members Kathie Dunbar and Brandon Betz introduced a resolution last night that would eliminate a city ordinance that requires all residents — even those in multi-family living situations — to pay to park in the street overnight.
The permitting system only took effect in March after City Council spent months hobbling together an ordinance to generate the fees. Betz said the added costs, particularly amid a global pandemic, create an undue and disproportionate economic hardship on impoverished residents.
“The current ordinance affects those with lower incomes and renters at a disproportionate rate,” Betz explained. “Charging people these fees to park in front of their homes is just another way that we’re continuing the inequitable distribution of wealth in this city. It essentially taxed a whole bunch of poor people for parking in front of their homes. That’s just a bad way to do business.”
The existing parking ordinance, which passed 7-1 late last year with Councilman Brian Jackson opposed, offers residents a $125 annual permit in exchange for the ability to park on the street from 2-5 a.m. Fines for violations were $25 (or $35 in a snow emergency).
The coronavirus pandemic pushed city officials to suspend most parking enforcement operations in the months that followed the creation of the new parking system. But now that it’s actually being enforced, residents haven’t been too thrilled with the extra expense, officials said.
“Sometimes, when the rubber hits the road on policy, you get feedback that makes you rethink the policy,” added Council President Peter Spadafore. “I believe now that the ordinance is operational, we are hearing that the way this is drafted isn’t working for many residents.”
Like the existing permitting system, this proposal to eliminate the ordinance would also require local streets be vacated for snow plowing or other emergency situations as decided by the city. A public hearing to examine the ordinance shift at City Council has been scheduled for Aug. 24.
Councilwoman Carol Wood, who led the charge on enacting the paid permitting system last year, was the only Council member to vote against setting the public hearing last night. Absent newfound objections, officials expect the ordinance to be eliminated without a hitch this month.
“It just goes to show you the difference that one vote can make on the Council,” Betz added.