Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Parking Signs On Monroe

I wanted to give an update on the Parking limit signs in the Monroe / Carlysle Business District. It's a lot of information, so hopefully this post will explain where we are at this point.

History of Parking Signs On Monroe

A little bit of history; the previous owner of 3700 Monroe St on the West side, then Paul's Market, had the city put up 15 minute parking limit signs at some point in the past. That previous owner is now the operator of Hometown Beverage at 3701 Monroe St, on the East side of the street.

Current Parking Signs

Around June of 2018, 15 minute parking limit signs were put up on the East side of Monroe St. by Hometown Beverage. With in a week the 15 minute parking limit signs on the West sign of the street near 3700 Monroe St, now Black Box Gallery, came down. Soon after city workers put up new 15 minutes parking limit signs again on the West side of the street.  Then some weeks after, the new 15 minute signs on the West side of Monroe were replaced with 1 hour parking limit signs. In addition, 1 hour parking limit signs were added to Carlysle St. next to Black Box Gallery, and 15 minute parking limit signs on Carlysle St. next to Hometown Beverage.

Traffic Commission?

The rapid changing of signage lead SODA membership to wonder who controls this procedure, and why was it changing so much?  On several occasions SODA membership was told that all street signage placement was controlled by the City's Traffic Commission, and questions should be directed to that body. This was told to us by the front desk at the Dearborn Police station, as well as Chief Haddad himself. The City of Dearborn website states; "The commission meets the second Wednesday of every month, except July and August, at 7 p.m. in the Police Department". SODA representatives made several attempts to attend Traffic Commission meetings between September 2018 and March 2019, with the purpose of learning what the procedure for sign placement is. These meetings either were not scheduled and/or were canceled. This raised further questions as to; if signage placement was controlled by the commission, how could these signs go up, come down, and change so quickly if they never meet? It also raised the question; is there really a Traffic Commission?

In March I contacted City officials in the Mayor's office in an attempt to contact the Commission and/or find out if there was even a Commission to contact. Initially even trusted officials in the Mayor's office that SODA has had great working relationships with, could not answer that question. Ensuing communications lead to an in person meeting between myself, SODA VP Marie Stanyar, and Chief Haddad.  The result from that meeting was that Chief Haddad is, in his words, reviewing Traffic Commission issues personally and taking "proactive measures" to deal with them before they would ever reach the Traffic Commission. It would seem that the only items the Traffic Commission is dealing with are items that require long term study, such as Stop Sign placement and removal. It would also seem that unless the Commission has a request to review, and it hasn't already been dealt with by the Chief, the Commission doesn't meet. There is still a question in my mind as to if there really even is a "Traffic Commission", I have still have not confirmed any actual resident that sits on that commission.

Traffic Sign Placement

From our meeting with the Chief we learned that he has the authority to have street signage placed at his discretion.  Any sign placed at his order has a 12 month trial period in order to determine it's effectiveness. Up until 12 months the sign either can be changed, removed, or a recommendation submitted to the City Counsel for their approval of permanent placement. The Chief says that the current Parking signs on Monroe are a compromise between the two business owners.  Hometown Beverage wants 15 minute signs, and Ray Alcodray (owner of the building at 3700 Monroe St & Black Box Gallery) has agreed to 1 hour signs. The Chief also stated that the Dearborn Police are not actively patrolling that parking on Monroe St.  They would respond to someone calling, but would not give out tickets right away because they would not have proof of how long a car had been there until they returned a second time. Also he said they would not be giving out tickets when the business immediately in front of the parking spot was not open.

In my discussions with Ray Alcodray he agreed to the 1 hour signs as a compromise, but would prefer a longer time frame. He feels that even the 1 hour limit potentially hurts business in that area. He told me that he doesn't mind some sort of limit in order to keep people from parking in front of his building indefinitely, but that different time frames on either side of the street is disproportionately favoring one business over another.

In full disclosure, I did not contact the owners of Hometown Beverage. Historically SODA has not had a positive relationship with those owners. This situation has existed long before I personally became involved with SODA when they still owned Paul's Market, and this situation still exists today. I didn't feel like it would have been a productive conversation.

Conclusion & Sign Approval

We can appreciate business and building owners having a say in the parking situation around their property. Street parking is public use; from SODA's perspective, this is our neighborhood and we would like to at least be allowed some input in this matter. Attracting businesses and customers to our neighborhood business districts should be a top priority. Anything that hinders customers, including the potential of parking tickets, is not a positive impact on our neighborhood. We also feel like these signs solve a problem that was not there. To our knowledge, no resident filed a complaint about parking in the Monroe / Carlysle Business District, and these signs where only placed on public streets at business owners request.

The 15 minute signs on the East side of Monroe St. first went up around June of last year, and then the 1 hours signs within the months after that. I have told the Chief we will be contacting him within the next month to confirm any recommendations to be submitted to the City Counsel for their approval of permanent placement. I will post any further updates to this situation as they arise.

Timothy S. Harrison
SODA President