Transportation Commission Reviews Proposed Overnight Parking Permit Pilot for Highlands
The State College Transportation Commission met Tuesday to further review the proposal for a parking permit pilot program in the Highlands neighborhood.
Borough Council initially passed an ordinance last month with a narrow 4-3 vote that included an 18-month permit system pilot for only the Highlands neighborhood. The ordinance dictated that parking restrictions between 2 and 6 a.m. would be enforced, and residents would be able to purchase permits, guest passes, and special events passes to park in the neighborhood overnight.
Mayor Don Hahn vetoed the ordinance, citing the lack of further review by the Transportation Commission and a public hearing.
Council members tried to override Hahn’s parking veto, but fell short by one vote. Instead, they passed a motion to send the ordinance back to the Transportation Commission for further review and to hold a public hearing at their next meeting on Monday, Sept. 17.
Transportation Commission members were surprised to see how complicated the proposal had become since they reviewed it in April, when they recommended enforcing the 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. restriction at all times.
“I’m completely surprised that this is almost the opposite of what we recommended when we voted back in March or April,” Paul Jovanis said. “We went from a pretty simple vote, with a lot of discussion, to something that is really complicated.”
Commissioner Hugh Mose also noted that special events, like football and Arts Fest, were the Highlands Civic Association’s original concern. The increasing number of vehicles parked in the neighborhood during those events was the focus, so why did the ordinance need to include anything else?
Susan Venegoni, vice president of the HCA, advocated for simplifying the ordinance by enforcing the overnight restrictions already in place — even on event weekends, when they would typically be relaxed.
“Three hundred sixty-five days, nobody takes down that sign that says 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. is restricted,” Venegoni said. “It should be restricted unless you have bought a permit. It seems like it makes it really simple.”
After much deliberation, Mose moved to recommend council consider several suggestions to the ordinance:
- Allow Borough Council to determine which events will be designated as special events.
- Implement a pilot project in the Highlands neighborhood that does not lift restrictions during special event weekends, but allows people who want to park in the neighborhood during these events to qualify via a permit process.
- Continue to lift restrictions on special event weekends as per tradition in other neighborhoods.
- Eliminate lawn parking.
- Continue to issue individual permits throughout the year.
- Allow the opportunity for public comment.
The motion passed unanimously. A public hearing on the ordinance will be held at the Borough Council meeting on Monday. Council is expected to take a final vote immediately following. Hahn has previously said he did not plant to veto the pilot proposal again if it passed following a review by Transportation Commission and additional public comment.