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Parking A Tale of Two Cities

How we would be better off if Cleveland supported local business and
 neighborhoods the way Shaker Heights has learned to do.

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 prevent 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 using two neighborhood-friendly tools long employed by Shaker Heights.

1) Free Short-Term Metered Parking

Removing parking meters from the Square would harm the businesses there. Without meters, the spaces would be taken all day long by Rapid Transit riders and store employees.

But the meters could offer free short-term parking. The 64 meters around the Square already do. See Push the Button.) They are owned by the Coral Company which made this improvement early in 2007. Merchants tell us how helpful this has been.

However 30 parking meters on the Square are on Shaker Boulevard. They are Cleveland meters and they do not offer free short-term parking.

In March 2007 we asked our Cleveland City Councilman Kenneth Johnson to look into having them changed to give free short-term parking. Six months later, at SHAD's annual meeting in September, we asked him again. No progress. Now, another eight months have passed with no signs of progress. We look forward to hearing from him soon. more ...


To see the difference between the two cities, take a short walk along the Larchmere Boulevard business district, north of the Square. On the north (Shaker Heights) side of Larchmere, the meters offer free short-term parking. Just turn the handle for 30 minutes of free parking.

Not a lot of time. But enough to visit an antique shop, drop off Fido at the groomer's or pick up some groceries.

< sign in Coventry Village mini-lot

But on Larchmere's south (Cleveland) side, the meters lack that feature.

Our recent call to Cleveland City Hall revealed that no Cleveland meters give free short-term parking. Shaker Square doesn't warrant special treatment. Surely other Cleveland neighborhoods with dining, shopping and cultural venues, would also benefit from this change.

Note: the Cleveland Codified Ordinances on parking are online. Click here.

2) Small Parking Lots

There's a small Shaker Heights parking lot near the Square, on the north side of Larchmere Road at the corner of Grinell (East 126th Street).

The lot has only 17 spaces, each with a meter that offers 30 minutes of free parking. Now 17 spaces may not seem like much help. But, net, after driveways and fire hydrants, each side of a block on Larchmere provides curb parking for only five or six cars. This small lot provides as many spaces as three blocks of curb parking!


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

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

Free short-term parking and small parking lots would be a good start.

What about Cleveland Heights?

Cleveland Heights realizes the importance of parking and does even more to help businesses and residents than Shaker Heights. It uses free short-term parking (Coventry Village), mini-lots (Coventry Village, Cedar Hill, Lee Road) and parking structures (Coventry Village and Lee Road behind the Cedar-Lee Theater).

Councilman Kenneth Johnson's reply

Councilman Johnson did not reply to our emails asking for his views on this issue.  But in a phone call he expressed interest but said that the city ordinances would have to be changed.

AN UPDATE:  September 2008

Shaker Heights has removed the meters along the north side of Larchmere Boulevard and in the parking lot. The reason: the cost to maintain them exceeded their receipts.

Will store and restaurant employees and valet parking attendants take all the spaces, making it hard for shoppers and diners to park? Or will it work out well. Time will tell. The Larchmere Merchants Association is following this change.

Arnie Berger, webkeeper   posted June 30, 2008

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