Beginning April 1, overnight parking will be temporarily permitted on most West Hartford streets without need for any special permission, as the Town Council considers an ordinance making the move permanent.
By Ronni Newton
The Town of West Hartford’s overnight parking ban, which prohibits on-street parking between the hours of 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., has been suspended effective April 1, 2021, and next week the Town Council will begin consideration of a permanent change to the overnight parking ordinance.
The town’s overnight on-street parking ban had been temporarily suspended when the pandemic first hit to accommodate the sudden influx of college students returning and other family members living and working at home. The town manager was able to do that due to the state of emergency.
Suspension of the ban was extended throughout the summer and fall, but re-instituted effective Dec. 1, 2020, to ensure the roads would be clear for curb-to-curb snow removal. With the ban in place, residents could apply for an omit through the police department to park on the street for a limited number of nights.
According to Town Manager Matt Hart, suspending the ban for roughly nine months did not result in significant problems.
Hart said West Hartford has had a restriction on overnight parking on the books since 1957. The ordinance originally prohibited parking on the street for more than three hours between midnight and 6 a.m., and in 1975 was amended to prohibit on-street parking between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. Discussions about changing the ban have come up since then, but have not been been enacted.
At its meeting April 5, the Town Council will receive an ordinance for consideration which would permanently modify the ban by providing additional authority to the town manager to exempt streets from the ban. If approved, the effect of the change will likely be that overnight parking will be allowed on most streets, but some limitations will be recommended.
“We are looking to adopt a set of regulations which most likely will include a resident overnight parking permit,” Hart told We-Ha.com. “I think it’s important to continue to have some limitations where we would have an overnight parking permit for residents.”
The specifics of the residential permit and how it would be regulated would still need to be determined, and Hart said there may be a modest administrative fee attached.
As the town’s traffic authority, Hart would have the right to maintain parking restrictions on certain streets, and would likely do so on the streets adjacent to the Center where the Council approved changes in 2019 to prohibit on-street parking between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Overnight parking could also be restricted on other streets where it “could lead to nuisance activities,” the agenda states.
Hart said he has discussed the proposed change with West Hartford Police Chief Vernon Riddick, who did not express concern that modifying the ban and allowing cars to remain parked on streets overnight would create security issues.
Hart also said he doesn’t anticipate allowing overnight parking on most streets would create a problem for trash and recycling pick-up, which doesn’t begin until 6 a.m. – when on-street parking has always been permitted.
The trucks used for trash and recycling pick-up are more maneuverable than they were years ago and the process is less labor intensive, and with the retractable arms it’s rare that a parked car interferes with items being pick-up.
One reason for amending the overnight parking ban is to accommodate people who live in multi-family units where there is not enough off-street parking available. “We want to be sensitive to that issue,” Hart said.
In addition, since the pandemic began there continue to be more people living and working from home, and households with more cars than they had in the past.
Going forward, Hart said he doesn’t think a seasonal ban for on-street parking would be needed. “When a storm is coming, the Public Works director would issue a parking ban.” That ban – which happens anyway – would accommodate snow removal.
A handful of cars that did not comply with weather-related parking bans had to be towed this winter, Hart said.
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