Neighborhood parking permit program targets student parking

Augusta Assistant Director of Traffic Engineering John Ussery, left, speaks with homeowners in the Laney-Walker district about a new residential parking permit program. SUSAN MCCORD/STAFF

Homeowners on streets near Augusta University’s downtown campus and area high schools are applauding a new city effort to create a residential parking permit program.

 

Student cars line both sides of Mauge Street in the Laney-Walker district, creating a hazard and blocking driveways, homeowner Tareon Johnson said.

“If they’re on both sides of the street, let’s say an emergency situation comes up,” Johnson said. “Even a bus can’t get through there.”

The students have blocked driveways, moved trash cans, prevented garbage collection and caused damage to other parked vehicles, Johnson said.

Blount Avenue property owner Dorothy Johnson said students have moved the cones she places to reserve a parking spot for herself. One exclaimed he “wasn’t going to pay to park,” she said.

But Augusta Traffic Engineer John Ussery has developed a fix he said can be put in place anywhere schools, shopping or events hinder a resident’s safety when parked cars clot narrow roads. The city Engineering Services committee approved adopting the plan Tuesday and it now goes to the full commission.

Under a new residential parking permit program, property owners on each approved street will be provided a set number of parking passes, and the streets will be clearly marked as available for weekday parking to cars displaying a pass, Ussery said.

The city has worked closely with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office and Augusta University on the program and hopes AU Police will primarily enforce it, because the university already has a system of charging students for parking violations, he said.

Tows are unlikely, he said.

AU, meanwhile, acknowledged it does not have sufficient parking near where students work and learn downtown, Director of Community Affairs Cedric Johnson said.

“Some don’t want to pay,” he said. “For others, it’s convenience of location. We can’t force those students to partake of the options they have.”

In other action Tuesday, commission committees:

— Approved amending the city’s nuisance property code to require property owners to maintain city rights-of-way between the owner’s parcel and the curb.

— Approved a $14 million contract with Reeves Young LLC to build a new Augusta Public Transit administration and operations facility at the former Regency Theater site by Regency Mall.

— Received as information a report from City Administrator Janice Allen Jackson on interdepartmental efforts to reduce blight, littering and abandoned properties, which Jackson said number as many as 1,500. Keep Augusta Beautiful will be operational Dec. 1, property maintenance court hearings are up and proposed $300 charges for city workers to cut noncompliant lots will encourage homeowners to do the work themselves, she said. Commissioners spoke of the need for stiffer penalties and cameras to prevent illegal dumping.

— Received as information a stormwater utility fee report from Engineering Director Abie Ladson for the first two quarters of 2017. Fee collections are at 95 percent, with nearly $7 million collected going into cleaning stormwater pipes, detention ponds and ditches, picking up litter, repairing sinkholes and other services, repairs and projects, Ladson said.

 

Reach Susan McCord at (706) 823-3215 or susan.mccord@augustachronicle.com.

 

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