Short North parking changes go into effect Monday

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Chuck Dunfee used to visit High Street three or four times a week to frequent his Short North favorites, such as Harvey & Ed’s and the Short North Tavern.

Now, he only makes the trip from his home in Upper Arlington once a week. 

“I hate parking down here,” Dunfee said as he fed a handful of quarters to a meter outside Chase Bank, 677 N. High St. “It’s too damn expensive.”

In response to similar feedback from residents and businesses, the city is rolling out changes Monday to its Short North parking regulations, including decreased hourly parking rates in some parking zones. 

The changes include:

• Lowering the 24-hour resident guest pass rate from $6 to $3;

• Adjusting the time frame of when hourly rates change from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. at both meters and mobile pay zones;

• Lowering mobile-pay side-street parking rates from $2 an hour to $1 an hour from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in three permit zones;

• Reducing Goodale Street meter rates to $1 an hour and removing the time-limit restriction;

• Implementing an on-street validation program for participating businesses that discounts parking fees by $1 when customers use the ParkColumbus app.

This is the first go-round of changes to what was always intended to be an evolving parking plan, said Betsy Pandora, executive director of the Short North Alliance, a nonprofit neighborhood advocacy group. 

The changes update the Short North parking regulation changes that went into effect on Jan. 22 and eliminated free on-street parking in the area. The city didn’t start enforcing the new rules until Feb. 19.

The city issued 11,062 tickets this year through the end of May on the side streets in the neighborhood because drivers did not have a permit or pay through the ParkColumbus app, said Robert Ferrin, assistant director of parking services. These tickets make up more than 21% of the city’s 51,591 tickets issued citywide year-to-date through May.

Shelley Mason, 52, of Marysville, said the parking changes in the Short North are terrible and that she “always” gets a ticket.

“The garages are always full, and I have to loop around six times just to find a spot,” Mason said. “It’s half of the reason why I don’t come here as much.” Construction in the area explains the other half, she said.

Citywide, there have been 2,208 more tickets issued in the first quarter of 2019 relative to the first quarter of 2018. Ferrin attributes the uptick to increased staffing and new license plate recognition technology that makes ticketing more efficient, but he said he assumes a “good portion” of the increase is because of the new Short North parking regulations. He didn’t have a specific breakdown for the neighborhood.

Still, from January to the end of May this year, the Short North has had an 88% parking compliance rate of the approximately 95,000 license plates read, Ferrin said.

“I’m really happy to see our compliance rates,” Ferrin said. “The goal is compliance. We don’t want to issue tickets. I’d rather have enforcement officers educating folks and being ambassadors out there.”

While some businesses and their customers have reported being negatively affected by the changing parking regulations, Stephanie Tersigni, who owns Jolie Occasions, 867 N. High St., said her parking situation has been unaffected.

Tersigni, of Gahanna, has always parked on the street. She bought two business permits, which are each $100 a year, but she still parks in the same area as she did before the changes were made. Tersigni only has trouble finding a parking spot on the street during special events that draw increased traffic, such as Pride weekend.

“A lot of people are really negative about it, but I really think parking is getting better,” Tersigni said. “Once people get the parking app, it’s quick and easy.”

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