Part of M Section put in parking permit status
RP faults SSU students for parking woes on Maurice Ave. and Maximillian Place
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By Jud Snyder  February 14, 2014 12:00 am

Relations between the City of Rohnert Park and Sonoma State University were not exactly improved at Tuesday night’s city council meeting. Traditional “Town and Gown” friendships were exacerbated when the council voted 4-1 to turn most of Maurice Avenue and all of Maximillian Place into a permitted parking area.

The main problem was SSU students, faculty and staff parked on both streets are crowding out residential street parking sites. The reason for this was to avoid the stiff cost of campus parking permits needed, not because there’s a lack of parking spaces at SSU.

Once this parking permit program goes into place, residents will have to pay $20 per vehicle annually for a card to hang on their interior mirror and maybe a bumper sticker. If they want guests for a weekend BBQ, they’ll need a $5 guest ticket for each car or truck.

Mayor Joe Callinan was the only naysayer. “Why should the city charge residents $20 for something they had nothing to do with?

“It’s SSU’s fault. They were here before M Section was built. But they worry only about SSU. I can guarantee within a year more streets in M Section will want to be in our parking permit program, then more the following year.”

Callinan added, “Most families have three or four cars and that’s $60 a year because the university charges such high parking fees. Everybody who works there loves a bargain. I suggest we don’t charge our residents and work out  a flexible program with SSU. Work out something. If it doesn’t work we can always go back and make changes.”

“I’m sure any program that doesn’t work here, we will hear about it,” said Councilwoman Gina Belforte. “But in the next few years, SSU will have more students and we’ll have the same problems. I think it’s best that we handle it now.”

Lt. Pat Strouse, of the RP Dept. of Public Safety, introduced the proposed trio of ordinances. He emphasized the residents of Maurice and Maximillian came to him for guidance. “We did not contact them. They were looking for a solution.”

A Community Voice reporter asked Strouse during an intermission if R Section had the same problem. They’re located adjacent to the campus, closer than M Section. “No,” Strouse replied. “They have ample parking around the park in R Section.” But streets east of Roman Way do not permit parking on the streets, just in residential garages and driveways. 

The original ordinance was passed in October 2009 when Amie Breeze was mayor. It noted the growing problem of non-resident vehicles occupying parking spaces in residential areas.

The first application of this program came Tuesday night. It bans non-resident cars from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. in the new zones on Maurice Avenue and Maximillian Place. Strouse said violators will be fined $45 for illegal parking.

Mention was also made concerning trash and loud parties, mostly by university students on weekend nights with consequent litter the following morning.

Petitions were presented with more than the required valid 65 percent of signatures.

“I know we need something,” said Callinan. “I just don’t think it’s right to ask residents to pay the costs.”

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