The revitalization of Fishtown in recent years, bringing in an influx of new residents has aggravated an old problem: parking – specifically too few parking spaces on the narrow streets that contribute to the area’s distinct character.
“People want to kill each other half the time over parking,” said First District City Councilman Mark Squilla. “Permit parking has been an issue for certain.”
Many blocks of Fishtown now have 2-hour parking without a permit purchased from the Philadelphia Parking Authority. The need for residential permit parking in the area, some residents said, also relates to more people coming into the community for the new shops and restaurants.
Residents on certain blocks circulated a petition to apply permit parking on their block to ensure them parking near their home.
Kate Murphy, a resident of the 2300 block of East Norris Street, was in favor of permit parking being implemented on her block and helped start the petition. “When the petition came around I signed for it. We could barely park on our street before and now we can. You can see at 5 or 6 p.m. there are still places to park on the street. That’s unheard of.”
Murphy said parking has always been a hot topic in Fishtown and the particular area where she lives is considered one of the most problematic areas for parking by many residents. The popular bar Cedar Point and restaurant Loco Pez are on Norris Street and patrons visiting those establishments often park on the block where Murphy lives. This is why, according to Murphy, permit parking was needed on her block which came about early last year.
“Loco Pez is around the corner and there are some other bars and restaurants in this remote section. People would park on my street sometimes for hours and I would have to park blocks away from my home,” Murphy said.
Jim Kerrigan also resides on the 2300 block of East Norris Street. He was originally against permit parking on his block and signed against it but has since changed his position.
“I didn’t want it at all. I thought it was bogus. Paying however many dollars a year to park on my street was not something I wanted to do,” Kerrigan said. “It actually surprised me though. I can find a parking spot much easier now then I could before it was put in. I never thought I would like it but I actually do. I still don’t like paying for it though.”
Not all residents were accepting of permit parking. “There is a split on our block of people who want it and people who don’t,” Marlborough Street resident Tony DeOssa said. “The parking authority needed just over half the block to approve it and they got just over half. I’ve petitioned to get it removed but it’s still there.”
DeOssa was opposed due to the fact that his relatives who came to visit could not park on his block without a proper permit. Residents can purchase visitor permits from the parking authority but DeOssa said he does not believe he nor his relatives should have to pay for “something that should be free.”
Until December of last year only 51 percent of residents on a block needed to sign in favor for permit parking to be established. Councilman Squilla addressed this problem by changing it to 60 percent approval on a block to avoid what he called “a mini Civil War” among neighbors. He said he wanted to go as high as 70 percent approval because of the turmoil it had caused in the neighborhood.
Residents of Fishtown were not alone in feeling the effects of permit parking. Local businesses were also impacted by the recent change in the neighborhood.
Doreen Thompson, part owner of Les & Doreen’s Happy Tap at 1301 E. Susquehanna Ave., said that people from out of town are often discouraged to come to the neighborhood because of the parking situation.
“People don’t like having to move their car every two hours especially when they are just trying to go out to the bar and enjoy themselves,” Thompson said. “I think less people have come from other parts of the city to this neighborhood because of the parking issue. Fishtown is crazy.”
Les & Doreen’s Happy Tap is surrounded by numerous streets with 2-hour permit parking. The 700 block of Thompson Street intersects with the bar and has permit parking from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday through Friday which is during the busiest hours of operation for the bar.
Thompson said she is thankful for the people in the neighborhood who come within walking distance because the constraints of permit parking have limited people to drive there.
“I think it is a bit ridiculous and it has hurt our business to an extent. The time limit for parking is during our busiest times when people get back from work. It doesn’t help.”