A new parking strategy set to be implemented in the South Congress area by the Austin Transportation Department could finally dunk the district’s residential permit parking system into the trash where it belongs. Although it’s been in the works for years now, speaking as certified haters of the city’s approach to residential permit parking we really want to draw a few sharp lines under the new plan’s specific approach to RPP — which, in its current state, gives district homeowners who pay for a permit exclusive access to street parking in large portions of their neighborhoods, effectively privatizing public space and limiting parking revenue. Instead, the proposal for a South Congress Parking and Transportation Management District would hybridize the street parking areas currently used for residential permit holders, by also allowing visitors to pay for parking there.
It’s a relatively small change, since the streets formerly used only for residential permit parking will still allow homeowners holding residential permits to park for free in these zones, but opening these often-underused spaces to the paying public will likely solve a lot of the headaches of the old system — you might have noticed that in a neighborhood where homes have driveways, in practice RPP often just keeps street parking empty, instead of reserving it for residents as intended. We’ve spent thousands of words on this site laying out the downsides of the city’s current residential permit parking system, so we’re thrilled to see this new plan’s adaptation of RPP zones laying the groundwork for implementing these changes elsewhere.
While you might expect some pushback from neighborhood residents, the proposal brilliantly sweetens the deal by recapturing 51 percent of funds from paid parking and applying the proceeds to mobility improvements specifically within the South Congress district — we’ve seen several neighborhoods calling for this precise system and it’s a great way to get everyone on board with a wider range of paid street parking. Here’s how ATD described the changes to us:
The Austin Transportation Department (ATD) is working with area stakeholders to finalize the application to create a Parking and Transportation Management District (PTMD) in and around the South Congress area. One of the first anticipated benefits will be a unification of RPP hours to allow for a new Hybrid Parking Zone. What this means is the curb space that was traditional RPP would be converted to allow for visitors and employees to park between set times, while allowing permit holders to park without paying. This will provide more predictability for both residents and visitors to the area, as there will no longer be different active RPP times from block to block. Parking revenue collected within the district will allow ATD to dedicate mobility enforcement officers to the area. Additionally, a portion of parking funds (51%, less city cost of service) is set aside in a fund to help complete mobility projects within the district. ATD is still learning from the new Hybrid Parking Zone concept and South Congress will be a great start to understanding how ATD and the public will take the next steps to enhance the RPP program for the future.
— Austin Transportation Department
That’s an admirably diplomatic approach to laying out the changes of the new plan, which is why we’re here to say “hell yeah, man.” While we’re preparing to dance on the South Congress RPP’s grave, please provide ATD with some feedback on these changes via this survey launched last week.