It's no secret that it continues to get harder to find places to park in Over-the-Rhine as redevelopment continues there. That's especially true for residents of the neighborhood.
Now, a task force made up of staff from various City of Cincinnati offices has recommended a residential permit program in the neighborhood to address that difficulty. The task force also has another recommendation — eliminating minimum parking space requirements for developers in downtown, OTR and Pendleton as well as in parts of the West End and Mount Auburn.
Under the permit plan, the city would set aside 500 parking passes for OTR residents south of Liberty Street. Two hundred and fifty of those would cost $150 a year, while another 250 would be available to low-income residents at a cost of $25 a year. The non-low-income rate would be one of the most expensive parking permits in the country.
"Often, residents are forced to park at meters or find other parking options that are sometimes financially burdensome," a report released yesterday by the taskforce reads. "This has worsened in recent years with the redevelopment of key corridors of the neighborhood. There are now more parkers, both transient and workers, competing for the limited amount of spaces OTR can offer."
The 1,290 spaces in the neighborhood would be divided between 365 permit-only spots, 602 metered spaces and 323 flex spaces free for permit holders but metered for others.
Parts of Clifton, Columbia Tusculum and Pendleton already have permit programs, but those cost $30 a year.
The city says the other prong of the plan, removal of minimum parking requirements, will encourage more pedestrian-friendly development and eventually decrease the number of cars in the neighborhood. The task force cites the removal of parking minimums in parts of Cleveland, Nashville and Kansas City, Mo. as examples of the concept elsewhere.
"Parking minimums are well-intended, but they are an unnecessary regulation that violate their own stated goals of reducing traffic, threaten walkability, and lead to blight in our cherished urban fabric in Over-the-Rhine," the report from the task force states.
In February 2016, Cincinnati City Council directed city administration to create the task force on parking in OTR, which is made up of staff from the offices of the city manager, the department of community and economic development, the city's parking division, the transportation and engineering department and city planning. The task force also tapped Walker Parking Consultants, community groups in OTR and development organizations as well as holding public input sessions.
Either part of the plan could prove controversial. Cincinnati City Council has twice tried to pass a permit plan before, only to have their attempts swatted down by Mayor John Cranley. The city's latest suggestion is similar to those plans. And critics of removing mandatory parking minimums for developers say the move amounts to another concession to developers who are already getting tax abatements and other incentives from the city while making parking in OTR more difficult to find.