The Oak Park village board heard 11 recommendations Monday for dealing with the growing parking crunch experienced overnight by residents of multi-family buildings in the village. Trustees voted to forward nine of the recommendations for further staff study and legal analysis. A report is due back to the village board in mid-September.

Starting with the premise that maintaining the overnight ban is a given, the recommendations grew out of an informal web survey conducted in December, 2006, and a public hearing in April of this year. The village’s Transportation Committee then held two discussions to develop their final list of recommendations.

Trustees heard a presentation by Parking Services Manager Alva Johnson, and asked question of him and Transportation Committee Chair Steven Ginsberg.

The board was split 4-3 over the first recommendation with the majority agreeing to terminate the current 30 night extended pass program while expanding from five to 24, the number of single-night passes available annually. Some trustees thought 24 too many, others too few.

However, there was consensus to refer a recommendation to impose registration fees based on vehicle weight. Trustees unanimously rejected a proposal to impose graduated fee increases on residences with more than two vehicles.

In general there was consensus on eight other recommendations, including a block-by-block study in high demand areas to more accurately determine parking demand, allowing limited expansion of on street parking on a case by case basis, establishing long term overnight parking availability in village garages and lots, requiring disclosure of existing parking restrictions to potential renters and buyers, issuing a formal statement that renters and buyers, not the village, are responsible for acquiring parking, and having the village facilitate those with parking needs finding those with parking spaces through a web based clearing house.

Central to any successful addressing of the problem, President David Pope and others said, was increased enforcement of permit parking regulations. Johnson told trustees that an estimated 50 percent of nighttime violations are ticketed, including those illegally parking in spaces reserved for those who purchase permits.

“This may be the highest priority on the (list),” said Pope. “People may then actually have spots they paid for.”

Ginsberg said afterwards he was reasonably satisfied with the results.

“It’s been a long process,” he said. “It’s difficult to satisfy two divergent aspects of the community.”

No ground floor banks in retail districts

The village board also unanimously approved amendments to the zoning code that will delete banks as a permitted use for floor locations in the shopping areas. The decision effectively outlaws banks on ground floors of retail districts without a special-use permit.

The Plan Commission recommended delaying implementation of the ordinance, noting that one bank currently on the third floor of the Scoville Square building had the right of first refusal for space in a ground floor location. The amendment will not affect that move.

Trustee Jon Hale pointed out that the issue of encouraging a more vibrant retail environment in the Downtown Oak Park and Avenue districts, as well as other retail areas, was a major issue in last spring’s elections, and was also called for in the 2004 Greater Downtown Plan and a 1990 Village Master Plan

“It doesn’t make any sense to spend all that time on master plans and not use them,” he said. “This isn’t any time for delay. We’ve already delayed for two years.”

Trustee Ray Johnson concurred, saying that he favored looking into making the ordinance even more restrictive in retail areas. Attorney Ray house said the village was on firm legal ground.

“That’s sustainable and something the board can consider doing,” he said. The changes go into effect a week from Friday.

Join the discussion on social media!