Downtown DeKalb residents soon may be able to buy $75 parking permit

March 30, 2019

DeKALB – City Council Ward 7 Alderman Tony Faivre said he’s shocked that downtown DeKalb residents would rather go outside in cold weather to move their cars to avoid incurring parking tickets than pay for a guaranteed downtown parking space.

Faivre spoke Monday at the council’s Committee of the Whole meeting. Downtown residents could soon have the option to purchase a parking permit for $75 a year, or at a prorated cost of $7 a month. Permits will be optional but would ensure residents get guaranteed spots in the Ellwood and Glidden parking lots off Second Street just north of Locust Street.

“I’m shocked that somebody would rather go outside on a 20-degree-below-zero day and move their car on Tuesday over to the Monday lot twice a week,” Faivre said. “That isn’t worth 33 cents a day to do that.”

Renters in places such as Plaza DeKalb and Cornerstone DeKalb are expected to create parking competition for visitors wishing to patronize downtown establishments. Street-side parking for visitors would increase to a three-hour time limit, and then after 6 p.m., parking would last through the night – except for street cleaning.

“It’s all about how fast you can get to the front door of where you need to be,” City Manager Bill Nicklas said. “If [residents] don’t [purchase a permit], first-come, first-serve will still apply, and they could run afoul of that 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. street-cleaning window.”

Nicklas and DeKalb Police Cmdr. Craig Woodruff presented the council with a proposal for downtown parking changes in light of a growing residential population downtown. Nicklas said the city also will put up new signage for the changing parking regulations.

“Permitting is currently done by the city finance department,” Woodruff said. “It would switch to the DeKalb Police Department, and we would administer it like the Safe Streets Initiative.”

Woodruff said he has spent a significant amount of time over the past few months going door to door interviewing residents and collecting opinions on what to charge for the optional permits.

He said residents and business owners who struggle with income stability seem more concerned with up-front costs than the inconvenience of moving their vehicles. One initially had proposed a $50 permit charge, which Nicklas said was a little low.

“In speaking with some of the residents, I think the trick is you would do it for free if you don’t mind the inconvenience of walking a little further,” Woodruff said.

Ward 1 Alderman David Jacobson proposed the prorated permit idea. Since the ticketing year would go from August 1 to July 31, Woodruff said, permits could be issued on a month-to-month basis if someone moved within a few months of the end of year.

The proposal will next be brought to the council as an ordinance for a vote at a later meeting, Nicklas said.