When school begins for Duluth East High School students next week, they'll have more streets where they can legally park their cars - but not as many as originally proposed to the Duluth City Council.
The council on Monday unanimously agreed to an amendment proposed by 1st District Councilor Gary Anderson, then also unanimously approved a new and somewhat reduced East residential permit parking zone.
In the zone, residents pay for permits to park on the street near their properties, and all other vehicles are excluded during school hours. That means students who choose to drive to school, and who haven't qualified for one of the 300 spots the school provides, have to park farther away.
The reduced zone the council was to have voted on was proposed by Mark Bauer, the city's parking operations specialist. He had surveyed neighbors and concluded that the zone - which extended as far as 14 blocks from the school - was larger than it needed to be.
But many neighbors in some areas closer to the school - in emails to councilors and in public comments at Monday's meeting - said Bauer had gone too far in including their neighborhoods.
Particularly at issue was the 4000 block of Gladstone Street, which drew comments from several neighbors who said they wanted their street to remain part of the permit zone.
Betsy Ward, who lives on that block, said that when the former Ordean Middle School first reopened as East High School in 2011, there was no residential permit zone. "Our area was flooded with cars," she said. "We don't understand why this is being changed."
But one neighbor, David Tryggestad, disagreed, saying he didn't recall it being that much of a problem in 2011. "I'd like to advocate opening our area for parking," he said. "Parking is a privilege, but it belongs to everyone in the city."
The amended map proposed by Anderson, whose district includes the East High School neighborhood, still removes about 20 blocks from the permit zone.
But it restores Rockview Circle, Rockview Court and Gladstone Street west of 40th Avenue East, Gladstone Street between 40th and 42nd avenues East, and 40th Avenue East north to Rockview Circle as a part of the zone - as well as Luverne, Lombard and Gilliat streets between 43rd Avenue East and 44th Avenue East.
"I realize that no matter what we do with this zone, there are some people who are going to be disappointed, and some people who are going to be happy," Anderson said. "East High School clearly does not have parking for the student population."
East assistant principal Jon Flaa previously told the News Tribune that the school receives parking applications that far exceed its 300 available spots.
Council President Joel Sipress agreed with Anderson that the school-design process didn't adequately meet the parking need. But he suggested part of the problem is a "car-dependent culture" that influences some students who could take the bus to drive their cars to school instead.
After the meeting, several residents said they were pleased the council had responded to their concerns.
"I think they listened," said Byron Johnson, who lives at 40th and Gladstone and was among those who spoke during the meeting. "We are happy with it, although there may be some other people who may not be happy."
Also on Monday, the City Council unanimously approved a resolution proposed by Anderson and co-sponsored by Councilor Em Westerlund to encourage "all-gender, single-user, accessible restrooms on city property."
Anderson said he offered the resolution after a kerfuffle earlier this year when only one male- and one female-designated restroom were included in plans for renovations at the Lafayette Community Center on Park Point. City staff revamped the design to designate both restrooms as gender-neutral, and the council approved the new design in a special meeting.