Borough Council Passes Ordinance For Parking Permit Pilot Program In Highlands Neighborhood
The State College Borough Council passed an ordinance 5-2 for the parking permit pilot program in the Highlands neighborhood Monday.
Preliminary plans for the program were first approved in April. Council moved forward and voted 4-3 to pass the ordinance in August, but Mayor Don Hahn vetoed their proposal. Hahn requested further review from the Transportation Commission as well as a public hearing, which were both granted.
Despite strong student backlash in the earlier stages of the pilot program, only one community member voiced her opinion during public hour. She explained her confusion on what exactly council was voting on at the meeting, as the ordinance has gone through so many revisions in recent months.
Council then discussed the changes made to the ordinance by the Transportation Commission. Instead of restricting parking for all special event weekends, Council will approve a schedule of special events annually where parking restrictions will not be enforced in most of the Borough, but when Highlands residents and their guests will be required to purchase special events overnight parking permits for $10 each. Highlands parking permits will be available at all other times through the same software system, but at no cost. Lawn parking is prohibited.
Hahn was impressed with the changes made to the ordinance and the new flexibility that it held.
“A lot of the regulation seems to be taken out of the legislative, although the legislature has the right to amend borough regulations, but it seems like a really flexible system,” Hahn said.
The sole votes against the ordinance came from Council President Evan Myers and Councilman Dan Murphy, who have remained in opposition through the lifespan of the discussion and the ordinance. While Myers was mostly quiet during discussion, Murphy voiced concerns over the equity of the pilot program when comparing single-family homes to apartments or fraternity houses, as well as the potential to be granted overnight parking permits for residents who Airbnb their homes.
Residents will be notified prior to the implementation of the pilot program, which is set to begin January 1, 2019 rather than October 1, 2018 as in the original ordinance. Council will need to approve a list of special events for 2019, likely in December. As currently written, the pilot program will last through July 2020.
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