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Parking A Tale of Three Cities
How we would all be better off if Cleveland supported local business
the way Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights have learned to do.
June 26, 2008

Though many may see Shaker Square as being in Shaker Heights, that's only partly true. We are in the Shaker Heights City School District, under an arrangement that dates back to the incorporation of Shaker Heights in 1912.  But we are also in the City of Cleveland.

Now we must all recognize the enormous help that Cleveland gave in the remodeling of the Square in 1999 and 2000. (I'll be reporting soon on how Cleveland, Shaker Heights and Cuyahoga County supported that project.)

That multi-million dollar undertaking was done for sound economic reasons:

  • To avoid neighborhood decay

  • To increase property values (and thus tax valuations and tax receipts for the city of Cleveland and the Shaker schools)

  • To increase employment in those enterprises (and thus collect more payroll taxes).

  • And a new reason: shopping locally instead of driving to some distant shopping mall saves energy.

Parking on and near the Square can be hard to find. You can see the problem in the VALET PARKING services offered by many restaurants. You can hear the problem in the voices of merchants complaining that restaurant patrons often take all the nearby parking spaces.

Cleveland can help the Square by starting to use three neighborhood development tools long used by Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights.

1) Free Short-Term Metered Parking

Yes, the parking meters around the Square do give free short-term parking. They are owned by the Coral Company which made this improvement early in 2007.(See Push the Button.)

But most parking meters on the Square are the Cleveland meters on Shaker Boulevard. In March 2007 we asked Ward 4 City Councilman Kenneth Johnson to look into having them changed to give free short-term parking. Last September we asked him again at SHAD's annual meeting. The idea seems to have made no progress in more than a year. (I've called him twice this month and left word for him to comment on this issue, but I have not yet had a reply. I have promised to post his reply, verbatim, on these pages.)

Take a short walk on the Larchmere Boulevard business district. On the south (Cleveland) side, the meters lack that feature. But on the north (Shaker Heights) side of the street the meters offer free short-term parking. Just turn the handle for 30 minutes of free parking. The meters at Coventry Village in Cleveland Heights also give free short-term parking.

And what about Cleveland? A call to City Hall yesterday revealed that no Cleveland meters give free short-term parking. The Square doesn't ask for special treatment. I'm sure all neighborhoods would benefit from them.

2) Small Parking Lots

Cleveland Heights has created many small parking lots that require either a permit or use of a parking meter. You'll see them at the top of Cedar Hill, on Lee Road south of Cedar, and on Coventry Road. They help support local stores, restaurants and apartment buildings. Cleveland Heights also has large lots on Mayfield Road, behind the Cedar-Lee Theatre, and on Coventry.

The City of Cleveland, to the best of my knowledge, has no parking lots outside of downtown.

3) Parking Structures

The parking structure Cleveland Heights built a few years ago on the east side of Coventry Road, in the heart of Coventry Village, is vital to the health of that busy stretch of retail and restaurants. Cleveland Heights recently completed a new parking structure behind the Cedar-Lee Theater.

And what about Cleveland's investment in parking garages. There are just two, both downtown: one near City Hall, used largely by city employees, the other near Gateway. That's fine. But what about the neighborhoods?

Cleveland, Shaker Heights and Cuyahoga County should start to address the parking problems on and near Shaker Square. We can't expect the Coral Company to take on the parking challenge by itself.

Arnie Berger, webkeeper

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