On Thursday, August 16, 2007, I was invited to a meeting for the Trailwood Hills HOA held at 7:00 PM at Carolina Pines. The hot topic – parking on Trailwood Hills Drive, Laurel Falls Lane and other streets that are overcrowded with parked cars.
Sheryl Roberts lead the meeting and kicked off with introductions to the HOA board. There were probably about 20-25 people in attendance. Special guest included City Councilor (District D) Thomas Crowder, RPD District 26 Captain, C. M. Mise, and City of Raleigh Public Works Transportation Analyst, Audrey Mise.
The overview of the situation is that Laurel Falls Lane basically turns into a one-way street when cars park on both sides. This makes it impassable at times for school buses and emergency vehicles like ambulances & fire trucks. The overall concern is for the public well-being in the event of an emergency, the ability to for emergency vehicles to respond to a 911 call.
There was some great discussion both for and against the proposal to convert the streets to parking on one-side only. In my eyes, the issue was boiling down to convenience versus safety. Safety wins in this case. On the other hand, it’s easy to understand why someone feels they have a right to park in front of their house, but on a 22-foot street when cars are parking on both sides and the street turns impassable at times, the issue of safety comes into play.
Adding to the complication of the problem are households with 4, 6, even up to 9 vehicles parking overnight. Some residents choose not to use their driveway and only park in the street. Other residents have chosen to convert the garage into household use, therefore eliminating valuable parking spaces. There is even drop-off car pooling going on. People have been seen parking their cars in Trailwood Hills and being picked up by a roommate or friend to drive to another neighborhood in the Lineberry area. Additionally, organizations from other neighborhoods in the area have new parking rules and others have started to implement more strict enforcement.
If you look at the core of the issue, we can question the reasoning behind development installing a street that is 22 feet. The intension is that this situation typically works in a single family residence where care are being parked in their garages and in their driveways. The cases where there are multiple homes with 4 or more cars creates a huge use case that was outside the scope of the original intention.
So what is the solution? Well, Captain Mise did a drive-by around 3:00 PM earlier in the day and stated that he had to weave through Laurel Falls Lane and even had to stop to let another car through. His suggestions is that No Parking should be placed on one side of the street. This solution has worked in other parts of the city.
Thomas Crowder offered the same solution and even suggested parking permits, similar to the program at University Park neighborhood on Hillsborough Street (by NC State campus) to resolve the drive-by car pooling issue. Audrey Mise offered great information about the necessary steps to initiate the no parking processes & safety inspections and was equipped with much needed subject expertise.
In the end, the few in opposition came around and embraced the proposed solutions and I got the impression that everyone left on a positive note.
The action being taken is as follows: The HOA Board is going to request a safety evaluation from the Fire and Police Departments. This will most likely result in a recommendation to impose parking on one-side only for the smaller 22-foot roads like Laurel Falls Lane, Appalachian Drive, and others. Captain Mise stated that if the no parking signs are installed, he will enforce them. A petition will be going around the Trailwood Hills neighborhood and the neighbors can spell out if they agree or disagree with the no parking proposal. The petition, along with the safety evaluation will go to City Council to be voted on.
Additionally, the board is looking to implement no parking along Trailwood Hills Drive from Lineberry Road to at least Laurel Falls Lane (possibly extending this a few houses around the curve) to increase safety. Most drivers seem to agree that with cars parked near this intersection, it creates blind spots and unsafe conditions.