City Council votes to implement parking permits

Last year, Rohnert Park City Council voted unanimously to pass a 120-day party ordinance in an effort to quell the numerous college parties taking place in M-Section. Along with this, they also passed an ordinance in 2009 allowing residential parking permits to be passed if 65 percent of the residents signed a petition. 

Residents of Maximillian Place and Maurice Avenue have received 90 percent of the residents’ signatures allowing parking passes to be distributed on those two streets in M-Section.For the past year, residents of Maximillian Place and Maurice Avenue have worked at getting this petition signed to decrease congestion on the streets, increase safety, and decrease the amount of noise that goes on around that area. Though recently, many residents have stated that they do not believe they knew what they were signing for.

“We’re opposed to the parking permits now. When we got that 90 percent signature I don’t feel like we had the whole picture,” said Tony, an M-Section resident.

But there are many who are in favor of the parking permits.

 “I’ve lived on Maximillian for approximately nine years and when I moved in the neighborhood was fairly quiet. There actually weren’t too many parties going on and there wasn’t a lot of traffic. But in the last couple of years it has just exponentially been worse all the time,” said Beth Buckley, M-Section resident. “The last two years have been very noticeable. The problem without knowing whose car is in the way is that we don’t have a phone number to call to say ‘Can you kindly move your car?’ Some cars will take up two spots and they’re just not considerate. For me, this permit parking is a really good start to bring some kind of order back to our neighborhood that is off the charts.”

According to Elizabeth Dippel of Associated Students, who represented Sonoma State at the City Council meeting, each parking permit that is distributed is only valid for one year. No more than three permits can be issued per residence and no more than one permit per car. A parking permit may be issued to a resident who does not possess a motor vehicle if the resident submits a signed statement that demonstrates that the resident needs to provide a parking permit to a caretaker or a service provider. 

A resident may apply for a permit at the City Hall if they can prove that they live in the area being affected and provide proof of ownership of the car that they wish to register. Each permit costs $20 initially (per car), and then there will be a $5 annual renewal charge. The parking permits will be enforced Monday through Fridays from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. allowing anyone to park in those areas over the weekend. 

Once a permit has been distributed, it can be transferred to all motor vehicles associated with each person listed on the application. The parking permits may also be loaned to visitors or service providers. The city may issue temporary parking permits to houses accommodating houses who may have a gathering. 

“The council passed [the ordinance] in a 4-1 vote, so it wasn’t unanimous. The mayor is actually the one person who voted against it. He realizes and completely acknowledged that something needs to happen, but wasn’t in favor of the residents having to pay for the permit,” said Dippel.

Parking was never an issue on the streets of Maximillian Place and Maurice Avenue in M-section, until Petaluma Hill Road and East Cotati Avenue stopped allowing people to park there. When the parking was banned on Petaluma Hill Road and East Cotati Avenue, the problems arose in M-section.

“About 15 years ago when we moved here SSU students were parking along Petaluma Hill Road and East Cotati Avenue. Now many of the faculty and students of SSU that don’t want to pay to park on campus find Maximillian Place the first convenient and legal place to park. Providing parking for the SSU students and faculty has become a burden for the majority of the residents of Maximillian Place and that’s why we want to implement the residential parking permit as allowed in the city ordinance,” said Paul, M-section resident. 

As a result of the new parking permits on Maximillian Place and Maurice Avenue, the council members are worried that other M-section streets that do not have a parking permit program will become crowded, resulting in a problem and more parking passes to be distributed in the future.

“[My street is] going to be one of those streets that will be impacted by the problem just being moved from one spot to another,” said Rusty Ruddic, M-Section resident. 

“If I lived on Maurice or Maximillian Place I would probably be in favor of this issue. I’m one block west of Maximillian and I just see the students are now going to be parking in front of the house & driveway, thus creating an even bigger problem…we already have issues parking as it is and now we are going to be sharing it more with the students. To me this problem is really a Sonoma State problem that they have started. Granted, if I were a student I’d probably be doing the same thing,” said Ruddic.

This ordinance will become an issue for “Sonoma State students because many of [the students] park on [Maximillian Place and Maurice Avenue] and walk to campus in order to avoid the General Parking Pass. It can also be an issue for any students that live on the two streets. Many of the houses that students occupy in that area have more than three students living in them, and the system only allows for three cars per household,” said Dippel.