Bottom Wants Parking Privilege 

In the late 1990s, former 6th-District City Councilman Sa'ad El-Amin proposed expanding a city ordinance which had allowed Fan homeowners and renters to obtain parking stickers freeing them from most "no-parking" restrictions in their neighborhood. The earlier effort in the Fan stemmed from an inundation of commuters — from Virginia Commonwealth University students to customers of Main Street businesses and restaurants.

City Council passed an ordinance in June 2004 expanding its parking laws to allow similar parking districts in smaller neighborhoods such as Shockoe Bottom, Carver and Jackson Ward. Under the ordinance, neighborhood associations can apply for a special parking district by gathering written approval from a "majority" of residents or renters — or from neighborhood associations — within the parking district.

"We had to get it changed," Anderson says of the parking laws. It's a situation that has grown particularly dire for Shockoe residents, he explains, as factors including construction, tourism, new and recurring business such as that of the Farmers' Market, along with talk of a ballpark threaten to consume available parking.

If City Council approves the district, new signage will mark the area, Anderson says. The parking stickers will not apply to businesses or employees of the area. But businesses shouldn't worry that customers' access will be restricted by the stickers, Anderson says. The heavy commercial corridors of Main and 17th streets, as well as portions of 18th Street, will be excluded from the decal's reach, Anderson explains.

David Wall, parking manager for the city, says the process has only just begun. To date, his office hasn't received the necessary application from Anderson to consider the proposal, though he recently met with Anderson to discuss the issue.

"We're not there," he says, adding that once an application is received, it could "take several months" before the parking district wins approval.

In a separate but related effort, the residents' association has allocated $30,000 to the construction of a bike and pedestrian trail linking Shockoe Bottom to downtown.

Anderson says he's consulted with organizers of the Virginia Capital Trail and hopes to fold plans for the Shockoe Bottom path into those for the $10 million scenic bike route underway connecting Richmond with Jamestown and Williamsburg. — Brandon Walters

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