Stepping up parking patrols in Wissahickon

The Philadelphia Parking Authority will soon be slapping more tickets onto the windshields of illegally parked cars in the Wissahickon section of Northwest Philadelphia. 

Within the next few weeks, officers with the state agency will start targeting an area that runs roughly from Manayunk Avenue to Cresson Street and Shurs Lane to Ridge Avenue.

The pumped-up patrolling will look to root out cars parked on sidewalks, close to fire hydrants and the wrong way on one-way streets, among other things.

The move, presented at Monday night’s Wissahickon Neighbors Civic Association meeting, is the latest development in the group’s three year battle to start a residential permit parking program.

Under a bill introduced in the fall by Fourth District Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr., 1-hour parking would be established along designated streets. Residents with permits – $35 per car, per year – would be safe from fines.

The measure was later tabled by City Council’s Streets and Services Committee to bring the PPA to the discussion table so they could assess the parking situation, which many residents said has worsened with more college students and young professionals renting in the neighborhood.

The Philadelphia Fire Department has also complained that illegally parked cars make it hard to navigate through the neighborhood’s narrow streets. WNCA President Andrew Bantly said a truck responding to a recent fire on Manayunk Avenue was blocked as a result.

The parking agency agreed to step-up their efforts in the area after civic members sent more than 200 photos of violations. Councilman Jones and The Philadelphia Fire Department sent along their support.

Bantly said officials with the PPA were shocked when they took a cursory tour of the neighborhood toward the end of December.

“They did not expect it to be as bad as South Philly,” said Bantly.

The new patrol, set for seven days a week, is the first part of a three-pronged approach the organization has agreed to try to work towards a permit program.

The next step would be to put up signage and start fining drivers who ignore the “No Parking” X’s placed along tight corners. The final step would be returning to City Council to pass a permit parking bill.

Margaret Small, the group’s secretary, said the initial steps are necessary so the city can justify the implementation of a permit parking zone needed in the area that the PPA will target in the coming weeks.

“It all has to do with getting your ducks in a row,” said Small.

Civic members weren’t opposed to PPA’s new role, but said the move would do nothing to alleviate the area’s congested streets.

Bill Braverman said handing out tickets will make it even harder for residents to find legal parking spots.

“People who are illegally parked on the sidewalks are going to be ticketed and they’re going to be taking up spaces. People are not going to be parking in the X’s so parking is going to get tighter,” said Braverman.

Braverman added that only a permit parking program would make things more manageable.

President Bantly agreed and emphasized that the option is still very much alive.

“This is only the beginning,” said Bantly, who said resolving the area’s parking problem is an important step for returning the neighborhood to its family-focused roots.

WNCA officials will send a letter to Jones’ office that will include requests for patrolling the area, including a suggestion to look for violators from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., when the group said parking is most difficult. Notifications will be posted throughout the neighborhood before PPA starts making its rounds.

Patrolling will begin after Jones looks over that letter and makes his recommendations to PPA.

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