Durango man Jim Schneider enjoys frequent breakfasts with his son Joe Schneider at his townhome on O’Brien Drive. But after on-street parking was banned on the road, the duo’s weekly breakfasts have become a trickier affair.
At the Durango City Council meeting on Tuesday, Jim Schneider took to the podium during a public comment segment to ask for “a little kindness, a little compassion” and a couple of on-street parking spaces to accommodate visitors to the 708 O'Brien Drive Townhomes.
“I’m trying to find out why parking is no longer allowed. It was very, very challenging,” he said to councilors. “I ended up talking to the Durango Fire Department, Karola Hanks. She said that road does not meet specs or width.”
He asked councilors how many wrecks or accidents occurred on O’Brien Drive the last 45 years.
“Because of some silly little new rule, I can no longer visit my son,” he said. “None of those people in that eightplex, unless you happen to have a bicycle and live in town, can you go visit them anymore.
“It’s not kind. It’s not compassionate. It doesn’t have common sense,” he added. “I don’t think anybody here would like to be treated that way. So I’m hoping somehow we can find two public spots on that road.”
In a follow-up interview, Jim Schneider said he had no luck getting a hold of anyone in Durango’s Streets Division. He did manage to contact Fire Marshal Karola Hanks with Durango Fire Protection District, who he said told him O’Brien Drive is too narrow for a fire engine to make a U-turn on if necessary.
“That was her thing, that fire trucks need to be able to do a u-turn on the streets,” he said, adding that reasoning didn’t make sense.
The Durango Herald’s attempts to contact Hanks were not immediately successful. Likewise, the Herald reached out to interim streets manager Joey Medina for comment, but did not receive a response before deadline.
Joe Schneider, Jim’s son, said “No parking” signs were placed on O’Brien Drive in 2015 or 2016, to the disappointment of residents living in the 708 O’Brien Townhomes.
“Nobody was excited. It was definitely a really big bummer,” he said. “And I honestly think it detracts from the value of the places too. I like living there, but it's one of the reasons why I struggle with living there too. Not being able to have visitor parking, it's tough.”
He said when the parking prohibition first took place, several of his neighbors wrote or called the city to see if it could be revoked, to no avail.
The eight townhomes contain two on-site parking spots per unit, one in front of each garage and one parallel parking spot along the edge of each unit, he said. Residents have resorted to sharing their parking spaces, texting one another to see if their guests can use one spot or another.
But sharing spaces doesn’t always work out, especially if someone has more than one guest over, according to Joe Schneider. Sometimes, guests have to resort to parking illegally on the streetside, which Schneider said they do.
That has resulted in tickets for some of his neighbors. Although Joe Schneider hasn’t been ticketed, he has been politely asked by police to have his father’s car moved.
He said he isn’t being pushy and doesn’t want to make a big deal about it, but he and his neighbors would appreciate additional on-street parking.
“I don't think we need the whole street or anything, but two to three spots on the road would be really nice. That was the way I was when I moved in there, when I bought the place,” he said.
He said it makes sense to limit parking on O’Brien Drive because some segments of the road are narrow and steep, but also thinks it’s feasible to allow parking on a wider part of the road.
On Saturday, city parking manager Wade Moore said generally, if parking is prohibited where it used to be allowed, there’s probably a safety issue behind the change.
Previous complaints about impeded access, emergency vehicle access and access during winter weather conditions could all be factors.
“The other piece of that is that each of those residences is supposed to have their own off-street parking and they shouldn’t need on street parking,” he said. “And if they own too many vehicles, or, like many Durango (residents), they fill up their garages with their toys (boats, bicycles and other things) ... You have to make a choice. At some level it’s like, am I living in the right place?”
Access for dump trucks and other utility vehicles could also be a factor, he said.