At last night City Council meeting (7/21/09) citizens for and against the proposed text change TC-7-09 Front Yard Parking (FYP) spoke at the public hearing. After the hearing was closed, the Mayor moved the text change to the Planning Commission for consideration.
District D Neighborhood Alliance (DDNA) neighborhood leaders came out to the public hearing last night in support of the Front Yard Parking text change. DDNA discussed the issue at their last meeting.
Mark Vander Borgh gave an outstanding presentation on the environmental impacts and financial cost to taxpayers when cars are allowed to park on front lawns. Mark highlighted that the proposed text change is aimed at addressing habitual parking habits, not the occasional ones. His presentation focused on the environmental impacts to the yard and to water quality issues. The presentation had numerous pictures that clearly proved his message.
Some citizens argued that the text change did not address the environmental damage. Vander Borgh described in his presentation that parking in the yard causes compaction, which creates impervious surface, which then leads to bare soil. Soil compaction kill trees (root damage), shrubs, and grass which easily erodes and generates storm water pollution. Having a clearly defined parking area that is paved or is a bordered gravel surface can eliminate soil compaction caused by heavy vehicles parking in the yard. Other impacts include storm drain maintenance and damaged utilities. Mostly, the taxpayers pay for this through storm water maintenance fees and utility repairs, but also are paying the unseen cost of poor water quality.
There was a great deal of misinformation taunted from those opposing the ordinance. A news report on WRAL-TV stated that parking on front lawns would be limited to “40 percent of their front yard or 330 square feet (about two car spaces), whichever is less,” The report failed to clarify that the 330 square feet is in addition to the drive way, limited to 12-foot wide by the length of the front yard.
In a follow-up email to the DDNA neighborhood leaders, Councilor Thomas Crowder also provided some additional information about front yard parking that was muddied by opponents to the text change last night:
As Liza Meeks with University Park pointed out, this is the width [12 feet] of an interstate highway lane. There will be few if any circumstances where four or more cars cannot be parked on the driveway and parking pad area allowed by the text change. Secondly, this does not require homeowners to pave or gravel their existing driveways, or install permanent edging, as long as they park their cars single-file in front of the driveway curb cut, perpendicular to the street.
Vander Borgh argues the text change would improve water quality by reducing sedimentation runoff into our streets, stormwater system and streams. Many citizens feel that the text change would improve the quality of life for residents throughout Raleigh and argue that curb appeal makes their neighborhoods look better when property is for sale/rent and general day-to-day aesthetics.
Comments welcome.Disclaimer: I support the Front Yard Parking text change. I mainly support it for the environmental impacts stated above and because it clarifies the existing front yard parking policy (that already exists) which does not clearly define a parking space, therefore, making it impossible for Zoning / Inspections to enforce.