OTR Parking Plan Sparks Mayoral Veto, Debate About Residential Permits

Mayor John Cranley on May 6 vetoed a plan passed by Democrats on City Council that would have converted 400 to 450 of the neighborhood’s 1,200 spots into permitted parking for residents. The plan would have charged residents $108 a year for a parking pas

Mayor John Cranley on May 6 vetoed a plan passed by Democrats on City Council that would have converted 400 to 450 of the neighborhood’s 1,200 spots into permitted parking for residents.
 
Vice Mayor David Mann drafted the plan, which would have charged residents $108 a year for a parking pass. The proposed fee for a permit was the second-highest in the nation behind San Francisco, which charges $110 a year, though the cost would be subsidized for low-income residents.

The plan passed 5-4 before Cranley killed the deal. It’s Cranley’s first veto since he took office in 2013 and the first mayoral veto of a council action in years. Mark Mallory vetoed red light camera legislation in 2011.

“In the interests of basic fairness to all Cincinnatians, I am vetoing this Over-the-Rhine residential parking plan,” Cranley said in a statement. “Cincinnati taxpayers from all neighborhoods paid for the public streets in OTR and, therefore, all Cincinnatians deserve an opportunity to park on the streets they paid to build and maintain.”

Republican council members Amy Murray, Christopher Smitherman and Charlie Winburn opposed the permit plan, as did Charterite Councilman Kevin Flynn.

Cranley went further on May 7, telling the Cincinnati Enquirer editorial board that he would be open to eliminating other permit parking arrangements in the city — currently, one part of Clifton near Cincinnati State and the tiny Pendleton neighborhood both have permits available for residents. He said he’d also be interested in auctioning off spots in OTR to the highest bidder.

That doesn’t sit well with permit advocates in the neighborhood, including City Councilman Chris Seelbach and OTR Community Council President Ryan Messer.

“I am extremely disappointed that the mayor would use his first veto to repeal this community-driven legislation,” Seelbach said in a post-veto Facebook post.

At the bottom of the debate is a philosophical difference: Cranley wants any parking plan to be first and foremost a revenue generator to pay for the streetcar and pay back taxpayers for investment in OTR. He’d like to see the extra revenue used to shore up a $569,000 gap between projected streetcar revenues and recently revised estimates. That gap came about due to revised estimates on rider fares and advertising revenues.

Permit supporters, meanwhile, see the measure mainly as a way to make life easier for residents who have to park in one of the most popular places in town. Many say that as the neighborhood becomes more and more busy, it has become much harder for those living there to find a place to park in the evening. That takes a big toll on the neighborhood’s low-income residents, neighborhood social service providers say. They’d like to see a parking plan passed.

Many cities, including Columbus, Portland, Ore., Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco and other major urban areas have residential permits. A number of smaller cities like Newport, Covington and Bloomington, Ind., also have them.

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