The area around East High School that requires residents to have permits to park near their homes would be reduced dramatically under a proposal the Duluth City Council will consider Monday.
Neighborhood residents were surveyed in recent months, and feedback has been "robust," said Mark Bauer, parking operations specialist for the city.
Many residents in the northern part of the zone, in particular, don't think permits are necessary, he said, which is why the reduction was recommended following a review.
"The zone is entirely driven by the desires of the neighbors," Bauer said. "The city has no other goal in mind other than to preserve the parking the residents want to preserve."
One proposed addition to the zone on Cambridge Street has already been nixed because more of the feedback in response to that was negative, Bauer said, largely because of some senior housing and the needs of those residents.
The overall reduction would open new areas for East students to park. That's one reason Lombard Street resident Greg Spoelhof opposes the move.
"It's a safety concern," he said, because young drivers can be higher risk drivers. "There are a ton of little kids in the neighborhood."
McCulloch Street resident Tim Golden says he lives too far away for students to want to park near his home, and supports the changes.
"I just never agreed with it from the get-go," he said of the permit requirement, considering the hassle of obtaining permits for visitors and his own family. "I put three kids through that school, and we were far enough away to know (today's kids) don't want to walk that far."
Bauer said changes will have an effect on the neighborhood, and a close eye will be kept to ensure the needs of residents are being met.
"Parking is very much like water; people do tend to find the lowest point closest to where they are trying to be," he said.
City Councilor Gary Anderson serves that neighborhood, and he said the new map "respects the desires of the community."
"There are a couple of concern areas," he said, and one of those (Cambridge Street) has already been addressed.
East assistant principal Jon Flaa said East's student lot is 100 percent allocated each year, along with 15 or so spots in the employee lot and another 45 at Duluth Congregational Church, which the school pays to use. The school has about 300 spots for students in total, and applications far exceed that, Flaa said, so he does expect students will park in some of the areas that could become permit-free.
That means the school will be more deliberate this year in emphasizing safety and respect for neighbors, he said, and encouraging the use of bikes and public and school transportation.
"But kids want to drive, especially for freedom," he said.
Flaa noted that parking in school lots is connected to attendance. Seniors with no attendance issues get the first chance at school lot permits, followed by juniors.
"We're pushing the notion of getting to class and being where you are supposed to be, and then you get the privileges," he said.
The city also has permit parking zones around Denfeld High School and the University of Minnesota Duluth.
The permits allow residents to park within 500 feet of their homes, and are in effect between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. when school is in session. There is no enforcement during summer and other breaks.
If you go
A hearing on the proposal is at 7 p.m. Monday in City Council chambers. The council is expected to vote on a resolution for the proposal during its meeting following the hearing.