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Editorial: Raise bar for parking permit

Imagine if you and 51% of your neighbors could sign a petition and presto, nobody else could park on your street. That’s basically how Albuquerque has 96 “residential permit parking areas.”

The residential parking permit process came to a head after Alvarado Gardens residents successfully petitioned for permit parking on Trellis Drive NW and Decker Road. Residents of the North Valley neighborhood complained about street parking, speeding and blocked driveways.

The city says the parking division assesses an area before permit parking requests advance, but the 96 restricted parking areas demonstrate the assessments are a low bar.

The City Council voted unanimously last week to halt new residential parking permit areas for six months or until it can strengthen the enabling ordinance, as well as to stop permits on Trellis/Decker. Both are good ideas.

Councilor Isaac Benton says the current ordinance is too easily gamed and proposes amendments to ensure a broader assessment of community needs and require a public meeting before declaring resident-only parking areas. About time; we all own our streets, not just the residents.

The city needs to come up with a plan that better balances public access to popular spots (like the bosque in this case) with residents’ ability to access their driveways and feel safe. How about dropping the $3 parking fee at the perennially empty Rio Grande Nature Center State Park lot and expanding parking hours beyond 5 p.m.? Allowing on-street parking on Campbell Road and expanding parking on Candelaria between the bosque and Rio Grande Boulevard?

A silver lining of the pandemic has been new/renewed appreciation for our open and recreational spaces; it is up to our local leaders to ensure we can access them without unduly burdening those lucky enough to live nearby.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.