Signs of Progress in Parking Debate 

The late-night parking signs that everyone seems to hate on West Broad Street soon may be a thing of the past. Or not.

Richmond police attached fliers to the windshields of cars on several blocks of West Broad last week indicating that new no-parking signs would be installed Aug. 17. The old 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. no-parking signs would be replaced with ones prohibiting parking from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m., the fliers said.

But the signs didn't change. Councilman Charles Samuels says the signs aren't going anywhere until all the parties affected by them — including area businesses, residents, neighborhood associations, police and government officials — can agree.

Samuels was scheduled to meet with the various parties, including the West Grace and Fan District associations, on Aug. 21 at the Camel to discuss public safety concerns and proposed resolutions. It will be the third such meeting since late May, when the Police Department's renewed enforcement of the regulations led to the arrest of Rand Burgess, owner of the Camel, a restaurant and music venue in the 1600 block. Burgess was attempting to persuade police to give him time to warn his customers so they could move their cars when he was charged with obstruction of justice.

"My personal preference would be for the signs to be completely removed," says Samuels, also a lawyer. "I also believe the police should be given the opportunity to present a fact- or evidence-based reason for the currently proposed signs to be installed. If there is a valid public safety concern, we should not ignore it."

The process is taking too long, Burgess says.

"It's been an almost comical slow process," Burgess says. "We're making progress on this issue. But it's been so unnecessarily drawn out it's ridiculous. Everyone is in favor of removing the signs. The only group opposing it is the police."

Originally, the no-parking signs were erected to help police deter drivers from cruising on West Broad, a recurring problem in the 1990s. Police officials say removing the signs altogether could invite back the traffic and problems that come with it.

The issue could be resolved as early as this week if a consensus is reached, Samuels says. As far as removing the signs, he says, "it's only an administrative matter of getting pliers and cutting them down."

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