Residents in the Overton Square area will now get to vote on whether or not they want to put in place a parking permit program.
The one-year pilot program would allow Square-area residents to buy an annual parking permit for $50. Residents could also buy up to four visitor permits for $25 each. The permits would allow them exclusive rights to park in spots on city streets that are currently open to the general public. Those spots would only be within a defined parking district.
The process to get the permits began in April as council chairman Jim Strickland began to have public meetings with residents there. Some opposition to the plan began but the permit program has mostly advanced quietly through the Memphis City Council's legislative process.
The council approved the program in a final vote Tuesday. Petitions will now go to residents in the area who will decide whether or not they want the permit program. At least 75 percent of those in the neighborhood have to approve the program before it is implemented.
Several residents spoke in favor of the program before the vote Tuesday.
"For the most part, our way of life has completely changed," said Monroe Avenue resident George Collier. "We have 11 children on the street. But they no longer play on the street....because the parents are afraid of the traffic and strangers."
Collier said he has witnessed some who have parked on the street "tailgating and urinating." He also said driveways there are commonly blocked, yards are rutted from traffic, and home values in the neighborhood have fallen.
Much of the new traffic on Monroe is a direct result of the success two restaurants: The Second Line and Restaurant Iris. Chef Kelly English helms both of those restaurants. While he's been working with the neighbors on the issue for months. He asked council members to vote against the measure because the neighbors there have asked for too much in the latest round of compromises.
"Moving (to Overton Square), you knew it could be revitalized and that it was something that could happen," English told council members. "All taxpayers pay for that street. (The parking permit program) sets a dangerous precedent and I don't agree with the scope of it."
English also said that the Overton Square parking garage was filled Friday night. He said t simply won't be enough to handle the capacity when the Square is completely redeveloped.
Only council member Joe Brown voted against the permit program.