City issues hanging permits to help with parking in Kent

Tyrel Linkhorn

Monday the city switched from rear window paper permits to rear-view mirror hanging permits for the 12 designated long-term parking locations throughout the city. Previously, the permits were only available at the police station. Now, they may also be purchased at Home Savings Bank, Huntington Bank and the Kent Chamber of Commerce.

Though there are no other policy changes to the 10-hour parking, city officials are hopeful that making the permits more easily available and portable will help ease parking issues.

Ward 5 councilman Edward Bargerstock said he thinks the changes, while small, are important.

“Nobody’s going to use something that’s not workable,” he said, referring to the old paper tags. “Make it convenient and people will do it.”

The passes come in A, B, and C varieties. The A and C passes are $15 per month, or six months for $85. The B pass is $5 per month. Mike Weddle, Kent Economic Development Coordinator, said the city doesn’t track how much revenue it receives from the passes.

“The intent is not so much to generate revenue as it is to manage parking,” he said.

Weddle said the changes are a result of the Parking Action Committee looking “to try to encourage those abusing the two hour parking to find appropriate parking.”

Weddle said currently, many business owners are simply parking in the two hour spaces meant for downtown visitors and moving their cars from space to space as the time limit expires.

As Kent continues to try to cater to more visitors, he said, those spots become very important.

“It’s a real issue for the city,” Weddle said.

And unless the city changes its ordinances, Safety Director William Lillich said, there’s no way to stop people from doing it.

“We haven’t come up with a change that’s satisfactory all around,” he said.

Lillich also said that overall, “enforcement (of downtown parking) will probably remain close to what it has been.”

Long-term parking won’t only affect the business owners though. There are some residents without off-street parking who use the overnight permit parking, particularly in the west river neighborhood and along Portage Street, Weddle said.

And there are also residents who live on streets with long-term parking but have parking for their vehicles, so they have no need for the tag. Their problem instead arises when they have company.

“Somebody comes over for a visit, what are you going to say ‘no, sorry, you have to move your car?'” said Columbus Street resident Elizabeth Howard.

“There has to be something to do in Kent before we worry about the parking,” she said.

Still, during the day, Howard said the spots along Columbus Street and across it in the Alley No. 3 lot are generally full.

What to do with those visitors wishing to stay downtown longer than the standard two hour limit is a problem that “is yet to be fully resolved,” Weddle said.

The Parking Action Committee has discussed the problem, and a parking station or some type of metered parking were considered, but have been avoided because “aesthetically, they’re not all that pleasing,” Weddle said.

The new hanging pass could potentially help the situation, Bargerstock said, as businesses could buy an extra pass and loan it out to shoppers or clients planning to be downtown longer than two hours.

Weddle said he doesn’t anticipate many people buying the passes to park as visitors downtown, though it is possible.

Still, with the city trying to bring in as many visitors as possible, it’s an issue that needs to be solved.

“We wouldn’t want you to come down to an activity and feel, ‘oops, I have to go move my car,'” he said.

The Parking Action Committee holds open meetings on the last Thursday of every month in the City Council chambers.

Contact public affairs reporter Tyrel Linkhorn at [email protected].