The on-street parking problem was the focus of the Common Council’s public health and safety committee Friday, as city officials discussed how to accommodate residents who ask for on-street parking permits.

The issue has come to the forefront recently after an Irving Street resident, Doretha Hahn, expressed her outrage in City Court after she was denied an on-street parking permit for her two-family home.

Citywide, on-street parking is banned from 2 to 6 a.m., but permit-holders are excepted. On-street parking permit holders are exempted from the ban, but permits are issued sparingly.

Only 14 permits are granted currently.

The criteria used by the traffic advisory board include street width and applicants’ access to other parking. The street must be at least 21 feet wide and the applicant’s residence cannot have a driveway.

If a home has a driveway, the resident cannot be granted a permit, Traffic Capt. Michael Niethe said.

At Friday’s meeting, both Niethe and Streets Supervisor Mike Hoffman said they are in favor of not granting on-street parking permits for anyone.

Hoffman said on-street parking causes concerns for snowplow crews, who navigate through narrow city streets with large trucks and machinery.

In the winter, he said, the streets become even narrower as snowbanks build up on either side. With on-street parking, the plows may not be able to fit down some of the streets, or cars that are parked on the street may be hit by the plows.

“We have nightmares every time we go around a place with on-street parking,” he said. “Every time you give out a permit, you’re opening up another one of these scenarios.”

In a letter to the committee, Lockport Fire Department Chief Thomas Passuite said on-street parking could cause problems for fire crews trying to respond to emergencies.

“Our vehicles are not only wider than normal vehicles, but they are also longer,” Passuite wrote. “Even our ambulances will have more difficulty finding house numbers late at night with vehicles parked on the street.”

Mayor Michael Tucker said the city cannot go with a zero-tolerance policy, saying it is “not realistic.”

“There are people that have absolutely, positively no option at all,” he said. “What are you going to have them do, park their car on the roof?”

Alderwoman Amanda Alexander asked about the possibility for allowing parking on some city streets that are wide enough to accommodate it.

The committee agreed that the current system — allowing permits by looking at requests on a case-by-case basis — would remain the policy.

“When they come up, we need to handle them one by one with the traffic advisory committee,” Tucker said.

Contact reporter April Amadon at 439-9222, ext. 6251.

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