Fishtown District held a public meeting over Zoom on Wednesday, Sept. 21, regarding various public parking issues.
Hosted by Marc Collazzo, the executive director of Fishtown District, the meeting featured a run-through of findings from recent parking studies conducted by the Philadelphia Parking Authority as well as input from residents. It was the second of three such meetings to be held in as many weeks, and the first time the topic has been addressed in this format since December 2021.
“We felt it important that everyone have an opportunity to hear about the study, how it was done, the recommendations and also to be able to have their say,” Collazzo said.
While Collazzo said he’s grateful to see the community grow in both residential and commercial density, he asserted that accessible public parking continues to be a major problem for residents, business owners, employees and potential patrons alike.
“The one thing that we’ve seen, certainly as somebody who now works and lives here, and certainly someone who visited, there was always an issue regarding the ability to park,” Collazzo said.
The main PPA study talked about at the meeting was conducted between April and May of 2021. It featured analysis of parking patterns at various time frames along portions of Frankford and Girard avenues in Fishtown’s business corridor. It found that due to the large amount of unregulated parking in the area, occupancy rates were high, often over 85%, and, as a result, turnover rates were low. Yet, areas with hourly parking regulations saw increased vacancies and improved turnover.
To try to address those issues, the PPA presented various suggestions. One such proposal involves installing two-hour daytime metered parking zones that become residential permit parking in the evening. Another plan would have metered parking from 8 a.m. until midnight, with those possessing a parking permit allowed to park without having to pay the meter.
Additionally, implementing several 30-minute loading zones in the area was another recommendation discussed by Ann O’Neill, the manager of planning and analysis for the PPA.
“Due to the corridor having several businesses of a grab-and-go nature where you just want to run in and grab a cup of coffee or a sandwich or what have you, placing some zones outside would give the businesses more access to much-needed turnover,” O’Neill said.
However, residents and business owners have expressed skepticism about both the study’s findings and the proposed changes. Some asserted that finding a parking spot isn’t a particularly major issue in some parts of the study area and that turnover is also higher than what was included in the findings. Others shared concerns about increased parking costs and workday interruptions for employees if something like the two-hour metered parking plan is implemented.
“My husband owns a tattoo shop in the neighborhood, and you can’t stop in the middle of a tattoo to have to go move your car,” said one resident.
Should one of the proposals be approved, an eight-month pilot program would commence to see if the changes alleviate any of the current problems.
Fishtown District will be holding another virtual public meeting about similar public parking topics on Wednesday, Sept. 28, at 6:30 p.m.