Some residents want parking district expansion near UM


MISSOULA, Mont. - Some residents who live near the University of Montana want the University's parking district expanded.

Drivers need a permit to park in the district, and to get one of those you either have to be resident or friends or family. Areas outside the district are up for grabs, but that can be a problem.

When students head back to school, streets are jam-packed. That's why some in the city want to see the district expanded.

"The nature of the programs is that they do expand, because residents see the benefit of having parking spaces become available for their use and their visitors' use," explained Ward Three City Council Member Alex Taft.

Right now the University's parking district is divided into three areas and runs from the 700-block of South Fifth to just outside the 1800-block of Beverly. Neighbors in one specific area, the 300-block of Daly, want to be included.

Many neighbors on the 300-block of Daly are in favor of expanding the parking district. Every neighbor on the block signed the petition to bring it up to city council. Neighbors simply said it would make their lives much easier because parking is already hard enough and once school is in session, they deal with parking spaces filling up from Hellgate High School and university students.

"If I didn't have a driveway, I wouldn't live here," said Daly Street resident Robin Hamilton.

The Hamiltons have come up with a method -- when someone who was parked on the street leaves the house, another person rushes to park their car in that spot.

"The problem is that we are the first block outside of the district, so everyone that wants to park near the University parks on this block and the next block and the result is that residents can't park outside of their own house," explained Hamilton.

Hamilton said he's had people park in front of his driveway, blocking him in.

Other residents feel the stress of parking when fall rolls around.

"Parking is so hard to come by, especially once the University gets going it's almost impossible to find a place to park for my own car. I do have a driveway, but not a garage. Ir in case of an emergency or whatever, it's just hard for police, ambulances or whatever to find a place," said Daly Street resident Kay Larson.

But there are no simple solutions.

We read through a flurry of emails from a special city discussion group with different opinions. Some support the proposed expansion, while others warn of fallout with traffic pushed onto other blocks.

Another argument asserts that the streets are owned by the public.

We found talk in the emails about a parking study, but when we asked, city leaders don't know where the money would come from.

So for right now, residents on the 300-block of Daly can only hope the council votes in their favor.

"It would make our lives easier, and that's why all of the residents on this block signed the petition to ask to be included in the parking district," said Hamilton.

City council plans to vote on the proposal for a public hearing this Monday and if that passes it will be discussed at the September 9 meeting.