Royal Oak to implement on-street handicapped parking
By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published July 9, 2019
ROYAL OAK — There is scanty on-street handicapped parking in Royal Oak.
But that’s about to change.
On June 24, the Royal Oak City Commission unanimously approved a resolution to direct city staff to add handicapped parking spaces in areas with existing angled parking in the central business district.
According to a city report, 12 angled spots will be removed in order to add 20 new on-street handicapped parking spaces. Four on-street handicapped parking spaces currently exist in the newly completed alley between 11 Mile Road and Second Street.
The 24 total handicapped spaces would account for approximately 3.2% of all on-street spaces in the downtown, according to the report. The Americans with Disabilities Act requirement for 501-1,000 parking spaces is 2%, or 15 handicapped spaces.
There are currently 754 on-street parking spaces in the 30 blocks that make up the central business district. The loss of the 12 angled spots to make room for on-street handicapped parking would bring the number down to 742.
Currently, 101 handicapped spaces exist in the downtown — 97 in lots or structures and four in the new alley. There are also 81 privately owned accessible spaces. With the installation of the 20 new spaces, plus 10 new handicapped spaces included in the City Hall and Police Department developments, the total number of accessible spaces in the central business district will be 212.
According to the report, city staff determined that converting angled parking spots into handicapped parking would be easier than parallel spaces. Angled handicapped spaces generally require simple restriping, while parallel handicapped spaces often require the removal of trees, lights and sidewalk cafes.
The resolution also includes lowering parking meters at the 20 newly created handicapped parking spaces.
“(Staff) came up with some suggested locations where we lost as few spots as possible,” said Royal Oak Director of Community Development Timothy Thwing. “They’re primarily near intersections where the curb drops and where there are potentially hashed-out spaces for other reasons.”
Of the 20 proposed on-street handicapped spaces, 11 are located on South Washington Avenue: four from Lincoln Avenue to Seventh Street, three from Seventh to Sixth streets, two from Sixth to Fifth streets and two from Fifth to Fourth streets. Three are located on South Center Street: one from Fifth to Fourth and two from Second Street to 11 Mile Road. Two are located in the public alley next to the Etkin office building. Four are located on West Seventh: two from Washington to Center and two from Center to Main streets.
A city memo notes that the proposed handicapped spots are not necessarily ADA-compliant, but “for a retrofit of … existing parking areas, the selected locations are appropriate.”
In order to retrofit on-street parallel parking, the city memo estimates the cost per space to be $8,000-$10,000 due to the need for a minimum 5-foot clear walkway, prohibiting sidewalk cafes and relocating parking meters, signage, lights and trees.
Thwing recommended that the city not designate any on-street parallel spaces, which are clearly not ADA-compliant, as handicapped spots.
Despite this, the City Commission unanimously amended the motion to direct staff to look into the possibility of designating parallel parking spots on Main Street as some type of “noncompliant but courtesy spots” for the purpose of aiding those with disabilities.
“Main Street does have a good number of businesses, and not every person with a (handicapped) placard is necessarily exiting and entering a vehicle with a wheelchair or needs the access aisle. Some people have disabilities where it’s a mobility issue,” Commissioner Kyle DuBuc said. “I think there is value in installing some reserve spaces on Main Street.”
Mayor Pro Tem Sharlan Douglas suggested a creative solution.
“Maybe we don’t make them blue with a handicapped sign. Maybe we make them green with a ‘Please be nice and let people with handicaps park here’ sign,” Douglas said.
“It just seems to me there’s some room for generosity here.”
Mayor Michael Fournier said he considered the move to be a “worthwhile conversation.”
“I’m OK with taking the risk of painting something there,” he said.
Commissioner Randy LeVasseur made an additional amendment, which the City Commission passed unanimously, to direct the Downtown Development Authority’s Infrastructure Committee to review whether or not the city should charge for the on-street handicapped spots.
For more information, visit www.romi.gov or call the Royal Oak Planning Division at (248) 246-3280.
Call Staff Writer Sarah Wojcik at (586) 218-5006.