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Editorials

Our view: Parking restrictions will protect neighborhoods

Cars park along Garden Road near West Hillcrest Drive on Tuesday, in an area that may be effected by proposed parking restrictions as part of phase two of the Safe Streets Initiative in the Annie Glidden North neighborhood.
Mark Busch - mbusch@shawmedia.com
Cars park along Garden Road near West Hillcrest Drive on Tuesday, in an area that may be effected by proposed parking restrictions as part of phase two of the Safe Streets Initiative in the Annie Glidden North neighborhood. Mark Busch - mbusch@shawmedia.com

In November, DeKalb police announced that 14 people were arrested or being sought in connection with a rash of violent incidents that shook the Annie Glidden North neighborhood last fall.

Of those 14, half of them were from other communities – including Chicago, Aurora, North Aurora, and a Freeport man accused of sucker-punching someone at a Northern Illinois University residence hall.

DeKalb holds a lot of appeal for outsiders looking to cause trouble. There are parties to crash, a market for selling drugs and people walking home alone in the early-morning hours who can be easy marks for robbery. Some of those outsiders bring guns and they are ready to use them.

DeKalb also offers ample overnight, on-street parking, so getting in and out is easy, and a line of parked vehicles can provide good protection from public view.

The city’s permissive parking policy is ending, however, as part of a three-pronged policing strategy aimed at reducing crime against residents in the neighborhood. Police also are using data to focus their policing strategy and plan to establish “safe routes” in the area, which will include enhanced lighting and hopefully security cameras – enhancements the area sorely needs.

In some areas, on-street parking will be allowed only for residents with permits. In streets near University Village and Welsh Park, it has been banned altogether. The next changes will ban on-street parking from 2 to
6 a.m. in the most populous areas north of campus, particularly the densely populated blocks to the east and west of Annie Glidden. Vehicles left on the street without permission will be towed.

Although these changes will require some people to change their routines, and will cost some of them a little bit more money, they’re already the norm in many university communities, which use meters, overnight parking bans and resident permits to regulate on-street parking.

Taking vehicles off the street overnight in residential areas of North Annie Glidden will improve visibility of what’s going on for both residents and police, and make it harder for people to just drop in and make mischief.

Some residents will lose the free on-street parking they have chosen to rely on rather than paying a fee to their landlord to rent a space. Others have been able to stay in apartments without establishing residency there – those arrangements probably will end. Some Greek Row houses lack enough parking for the students who live there.

DeKalb must balance the need for public safety with the need to be a welcoming community for outsiders. Special events, visits from friends and relatives should be accommodated through guest parking permits or potentially through allowing residents to call in a friend’s vehicle on a short-term basis.

There also may be options for creating off-street parking in the area. The city owns a condemned apartment building at 912 Edgebrook Road that could be used for that purpose.

We urge city officials to listen to residents in the area when it comes to suggestions for how to make the changes workable and affordable for residents, while still rigorously enforcing them.

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