Parking grievances aired at East Falls ‘summit’

 Residents and city officials gathered Monday night to discuss parking issues in East Falls. (Brian Hickey/WHYY)

Residents and city officials gathered Monday night to discuss parking issues in East Falls. (Brian Hickey/WHYY)

Like many Fallsers, Betsy Wilkinson often finds herself endlessly circling the block in pursuit of a place to park, or scoping one out for her daughter who often works late.

“There’s nothing worse than coming home at 1:30 in the morning and seeing wasted spots,” said Wilkinson, a Crawford Street resident, during the neighborhood’s first-ever “parking summit,” held Monday night at Falls Presbyterian Church.

Gripes and suggestions

The meeting, convened by Fourth District City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. at the behest of the East Falls Community Council (EFCC), aimed to give residents a chance to air their grievances to city officials, but, more importantly, start thinking about ways to address them.

“This is not a complaining session,” announced EFCC President Barnaby Wittels, who moderated the discussion.

On hand were representatives from the Mayor’s Office of Transportation, the city’s Streets Department, the Philadelphia Parking Authority, the Philadelphia Planning Commission, PennDOT and the 39th Police District.

Leslie Mason, principal at Thomas Mifflin Elementary, told the panel that parking around her school is a nightmare for staffers.

What’s more, the bus zone out front is too narrow. The result, she said, is that buses stick out into the street at the top of Conrad Street, a “blind hill.”

“We’ve been dodging bullets,” said Mason.

Other residents talked about the impact of constantly having extra cars in the neighborhood as a result of the William Penn Charter School, Philadelphia University and Drexel University having campuses there.

Some neighbors with driveways said they’ve been blocked in more than a couple times.

What now?

Following Monday’s meeting, a working group of residents, city officials and representatives from Penn Charter, Philadelphia University and Drexel will continue to collect and examine parking problems in the neighborhood.

They will also investigate prospective solutions.

Co-parking, angled parking, adjusting permit-parking locations and getting the Streets Department to paint X’s at end of driveways are just some of the short-term and long-term solutions the group looks poised to address.

“Collectively, the brain power is here [to find solutions], ” said Jones.

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