Last night’s Council meeting was dominated by the topic of parking. As every person who lives near, works in, or visits our downtown knows, parking in Ferndale can be nearly impossible during peak hours.  The DDA shows a deficit of over 500 spots in the evening on weekends. Since the opening of the wonderfully successful Rosie O’Grady’s, residents have been barraging the city with complaints about people parking on the streets, blocking their driveways, and being loud and disruptive. Various band-aid solutions have been suggested, a few parking spots added here and there, and an employee shuttle bus. Like most attempts at anything even remotely resembling public transportation in our state, the shuttle idea has pretty much failed miserably thus far.

Everybody knows we need a parking deck. It’s not even a question any more. The studies have already been done to determine where it can go.  The only question is how we pay for it. The DDA put forth some ideas last night. They brought those ideas to the meeting and presented them to the council and audience, composed of many Ferndale business owners. Some of these owners had been participating in the DDA’s parking committee meetings, others sounded as though this was the first they had heard of it. The details of that plan can be found here:

Major complaints of the plan were focused around raising the parking pass costs for certain lots, especially for those who do not work during the peak parking hours and don’t feel they should have to pay to help provide parking during those times when the lot they park in is always half empty. Councilman Lennon pointed out a problem that might occur in lots that won’t allow permit parking under the plan, in which the handicap spaces are full, and a handicapped person has to park at a meter and keep coming out to add coins.

There are solutions to these problems. THERE MUST BE solutions to these problems. Even last night, some possible ideas were brought up that might work. Now is the time for all concerned parties to show up to the DDA parking committee meetings and engage the process. If they do not, and just come to the council meetings in surprise and outrage, we will not get this done. Attacking the process or the DDA is not the answer. The people working there are people we are lucky to have working for our mutual success. Only saying “NO” to ideas without presenting any alternate solutions is also unhelpful.

We know we need the garage. We know we have to pay for it. We absolutely want to do it in the most financially responsible manner, especially in these times. The DDAs plan is the first real, concrete attempt at engaging this problem we have seen. But it is flawed. Let’s fix those flaws and keep this process moving. Everybody who comes to Ferndale is important, the owners, the employees, the residents and the visitors. We must be as fair as we can to all these people, but we also must make some sacrifices to make this happen.

I don’t know enough about procedure to know if last night was an attempt to rush through the DDA plan, or if it was meant to be just what it was: the first time I’ve seen everybody start to come together and discuss this issue in a more than abstract pie-in-the-sky manner. Either way, let’s hope the wheels are in motion and we can finally start solving this issue. The fact we even have this problem is a testament to what we’ve done so far, revitilizing an old inner-ring suburb into a place where we can’t even fit all the people who want to live, work, and play here.