Public right-of-way issues: Use of Kirkwood for dining through Oct. 31 mulled by Bloomington city council, motorcoaches get some parking commission talk

Bloomington restaurants might be able to continue using a few blocks of Kirkwood Avenue as restaurant seating, through Oct. 31.

That’s the effect of a resolution to be considered by Bloomington’s city council at its regular Wednesday meeting this week (June 2).

In mid-December last year, the council passed a resolution  extending the measures through Aug. 6.

The resolution on the council’s Wednesday agenda would also ask the city engineer to issue another temporary order to allow for the continued use of pick-up-drop off (PUDO) zones and “parklets” through Oct. 31. Parklets are the metered parking spots blocked off with orange water-filled traffic barriers to allow for additional outdoor restaurant seating.

The PUDO zones, as well as restaurant seating in the street and in parklets, were conceived as a way to help the business community recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the provisions of the ordinance the council would be extending is the suspension of fees that would ordinarily be charged for seating and merchandising encroachments within the right-of-way.

No fees are currently being charged to business owners for parklets, PUDO zones, or Kirkwood seating, director of economic and sustainability Alex Crowley confirmed to The Square Beacon in an email last week.

Crowley’s confirmation that no fees are being charged came with a caveat: “For now.”

How the private use of the public right-of-way is regulated is fundamental to the policy question to be considered by the city council this week.

It’s the same kind of issue that appeared on the city’s parking commission agenda last Thursday—purely as a discussion item—in connection with motorcoach street parking for downtown hotels. Continue reading “Public right-of-way issues: Use of Kirkwood for dining through Oct. 31 mulled by Bloomington city council, motorcoaches get some parking commission talk”

Swift retraction of appointment to Bloomington parking commission after Facebook posts highlighted: “Not a reflection of the city that we are.”

An appointment made on Wednesday to Bloomington’s nine-member parking commission was retracted by the end of the day, because of Facebook posts made by the appointee, Joseph Bortka.

The posts in question include one that responds to a post that says, “I hate feminism” with “I second this.” About actor Eliott Page coming out as trans, Bortka comments: “Look at the world going head over heels to help this woman continue to lie to herself. This is madness.”

About a post supporting LGBTQ+ youth, Bortka comments with a derisive hashtag #okgroomer.

In another post, Bortka shares a meme suggesting that claims about Russian interference with the 2016 election are inconsistent with claims that the 2020 election had integrity. Continue reading “Swift retraction of appointment to Bloomington parking commission after Facebook posts highlighted: “Not a reflection of the city that we are.””

Annual holiday free parking announced for downtown Bloomington, commission previews end of free parking in city garages starting in 2021

At its meeting last Thursday, Bloomington’s parking commission got a quick briefing from city garage manager Ryan Daily, about the end of first-hour-free parking in city garages downtown. That’s slated under local law for Jan. 1, 2020.

A sign at the Morton Street garage in downtown Bloomington alerts parkers that the first-hour-free policy is ending at the start of 2021. The hourly rate of $0.50 will apply to all hours parked, including the first one. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

A Monday press release from the mayor’s office makes Monday, Jan. 4, 2021 the practical end of first-hour-free parking in garages.

That’s because the press release also announced some free parking during Thanksgiving and Christmas. The mayor has discretion under local law to waive parking fees “during the holiday season.”

Jan. 1 falls on a Friday, and according to the press release, Saturday parking in city garages will be free in December. Sunday garage parking is always free. So it’s Jan. 4 that will mark the dawn of a no-free-parking era in downtown Bloomington parking garages.

According to the press release, for the week of Thanksgiving—from Thursday, (Nov. 26) through Sunday (Nov. 29)—there will be no charge for street parking downtown, where meters are normally enforced, or in city garages.

The decision to end first-hour-free parking in city garages was made more than two years ago, on a 9–0 vote of the city council. Various other changes were made to parking regulations with the same ordinance. Continue reading “Annual holiday free parking announced for downtown Bloomington, commission previews end of free parking in city garages starting in 2021”

Parking commission discussion: What should Bloomington do when people don’t want a pickle, just want to park their motorcycle … at bicycle racks?

“We have a problem. People who ride motorcycles now have decided that they don’t want to pay the meter,” Bloomington’s parking enforcement supervisor, RayeAnn Cox told the parking commission last Thursday.

Motorcycles getting parked at bicycle racks was one of several issues handled by the commission on Thursday. There’s nothing to prevent parking a motorcycle at a bicycle rack, Cox told the commission: “I have absolutely no ordinances to stop them.” Continue reading “Parking commission discussion: What should Bloomington do when people don’t want a pickle, just want to park their motorcycle … at bicycle racks?”

Bloomington’s parking commission counts new neighborhood permit rules as initial success, mulls more policy tweaks

Policies on the temporary storage of vehicles inside Bloomington’s city limits, aka “parking,” are key to retaining residents and businesses downtown, as well as the success of cultural events downtown, like this past weekend’s Lotus Festival. Parking as a policy issue reaches into the leafy neighborhoods, outside of downtown.

Late last year and earlier this spring, business owners raised the specter of relocating out of downtown, if their employee parking would be contingent on a quarterly engineering inspection of a repaired 4th Street structure. That led to the reversal of the city council’s initial decision to repair, not rebuild, the 4th Street parking garage. Demolition of the structure started in earnest his past week.

Part of what makes Lotus Festival possible is the reservation of hundreds of parking spaces with bright orange signs marking each space, indicating when motorists are not allowed to park there. They cost $20 apiece plus $10 for administration.

Street parking in the area north of downtown roughly bounded by Walnut and Woodlawn and by 17th and 13th has, since Aug. 15, required a residential neighborhood parking permit. The newly defined Zone 6, has round-the-clock enforcement from Thursday through Sunday.

It’s the city’s parking commission that has purview over these kinds of parking issues. The commission’s meetings are open to the public, like those of all boards and commissions.

The bright orange reserved parking signs got some brief discussion at last Thursday’s meeting, as did the early feedback on Zone 6 and other neighborhood parking permit areas that had their rules tweaked starting Aug. 15. Commissioners heard enough positive feedback that the changes are considered a success.

Its meeting last Thursday was the first one  for the parking commission since June, after its regular sessions in July and August were cancelled due to lack of a quorum.

Difficulty in achieving a quorum is related to one of the topics for future discussion identified by parking commissioners on Thursday. Scott Robinson, who’s assistant director for the city’s transportation and planning department, suggested the combination of three transportation-related commissions: parking, traffic, and bicycle and pedestrian safety.

Here’s a round-up of parking commission meeting topics, other issues commissioners might be tackling, and some other parking-related talk The Beacon has heard at other public meetings. Continue reading “Bloomington’s parking commission counts new neighborhood permit rules as initial success, mulls more policy tweaks”

City Council OKs looser parking commission requirements, but still not Dunn with parking

Bloomington’s city council voted Wednesday night to relax some membership requirements of the parking commission, a move meant to make it more likely the commission has a full complement of nine members.

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Looking south on Dunn Street where one of the “no parking signs” would be removed, if a proposed change to the parking ordinance is approved. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

But the council postponed a couple of changes to the city’s parking code until its Aug. 14 meeting. The changes are bundled into the same legislation, so both changes were postponed, even though the council appeared ready to support one of them.

Councilmembers were in agreement on a change that added the south side of 17th Street between Walnut and Dunn to the newly established neighborhood parking permit Zone 6, in the Garden Hill neighborhood, west of the Indiana University football stadium.

But they hesitated to approve a change that would allow for parking on Dunn Street, between 6th Street and 10th Street. Continue reading “City Council OKs looser parking commission requirements, but still not Dunn with parking”

City Council Preview July 31, 2019: Scooters, a PUD, not Dunn parking

When Bloomington’s common council meets on Wednesday in regular session for the first time since June 12, the city’s nine elected representatives will confront for the fifth time a package of legislation that regulates shared-use (and other) e-scooters.
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Local scooter laws are likely to be the focus of detailed deliberations at the regular meeting, unlike the other two main topics on the agenda.

The council will get a first reading of a proposed zoning ordinance change to allow for construction of an 820-bedroom project at the site of the current Motel 6 on Walnut Street, across from Miller Showers Park. Based on a note in the packet of meeting materials, the first council deliberations on the project are not expected to take place until Aug. 7, at a committee meeting.

The council will also get a first reading of some changes to ordinances involving parking. Those ordinance changes are on the agenda for the committee of the whole, which will convene right after the regular session adjourns on Wednesday. One parking ordinance change would remove some, but not all, “no parking” restrictions on Dunn Street. The other ordinance involving parking involves loosening the membership requirements of the parking commission.

More on e-scooters, student housing and parking after the jump. [Meeting agendas and information packets are available for download on Bloomington’s website. Regular meetings start at 6:30 p.m. in city council chambers at city hall. They’re live streamed on CATS.]
Continue reading “City Council Preview July 31, 2019: Scooters, a PUD, not Dunn parking”

City, county commissions have plenty of spots for citizens to park

At a Bloomington city council work session held last Friday (July 19) councilmember Steve Volan told his colleagues he’d soon be introducing some proposed changes to the city’s parking ordinance.  (The council has been on hiatus for a few weeks, but a regular meeting is set for July 31.)

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The Bloomington’s parking commission has two vacancies and might soon to have a third, out of nine spots. (Image is of the 4th Street Parking Structure top floor. Graphic made from vintage 2017 imagery in Monroe County’s online GIS system)

Volan, who is the city council’s ex officio appointment to the parking commission, said that it’s a challenge to keep a full complement of members on the nine-member group.

Two vacancies are currently shown on the city’s webpage about boards and commissions, and Volan said he expects there’ll soon be a third.

So he wants to consider loosening up the requirements for serving on the commission. Currently, four of the spots are tied to affiliations with a business or non-profit in the metered parking zone. One of the spots is for someone who lives in a neighborhood permit parking zone.

The parking commission is not the only Bloomington board or commission with at least one vacancy to fill.

And several spots for citizen service are open on Monroe County boards and commissions. At the Monroe County Board of Commissioners meeting last Wednesday, board president Julie Thomas encouraged people to apply for positions.

Here’s a quick rundown of all the city and county boards and commissions with vacancies. Continue reading “City, county commissions have plenty of spots for citizens to park”