It isn’t often that everyone agrees on something in Lindsay. But at the June 30 meeting of the Lindsay City Council, business owners, church congregation members, community activists and concerned citizens were united in one respect – parallel parking is bad.
In a meeting that was held specifically to pass a budget before the end of the fiscal year, most residents were concerned with an unrelated agenda item about bike lanes on Gale Hill Avenue between Hermosa and Apia streets. City Services Director Mike Camarena said the city was planning to convert all of the diagonal parking spaces on the street to parallel parking to make room for a 5-foot bike lane. In all, Camarena said switching from diagonal to parallel parking would result in a loss of 14 parking spaces on Gale Hill between Hermosa and Apia streets. He said this would be offset by ample off-street parking including lots behind City Hall (15 spaces) and the Public Safety Station (20 spaces).
Steve Slegle, a member of the United Methodist Church in Lindsay, said he was concerned with the loss of parking spaces after watching congregation members of different denominations line Gale Hill with cars every Sunday morning. There are about seven churches within one or two blocks from Gale Hill, including three directly on the stretch of street south of Hermosa.
He said parallel parking spaces would also cause a safety concern for both elderly and disabled people getting out of their vehicles and bicyclists zooming past cars whose doors could open at any minute.
“Elderly people and severely handicap people need the extra space to get out,” he said. “Please restore angled parking on Gale Hill.”
Sharon Rose said she has lived in Lindsay for 58 years and considered parallel parking on Gale Hill as the “silliest issue this City could be requiring.” She said she was concerned about elderly passengers trying to get out of their cars against the raised curb along Gale Hill. She said parallel parking might be the last straw for the few people who are still attending some of Lindsay’s churches.
“These small churches are already struggling,” Rose said. “It’s in everyone’s best interest to have a second vote on this.”
Stephanie Lenihan, who has been working on landscaping the Lindsay Museum and Gallery on Gale Hill, said she only sees one or two bicycles on any given day but watches cars park on the street everyday, especially on Sunday. She also mentioned the City’s own rules requiring a minimum number of parking spaces per business/building.
“The churches, Museum and Mason House all three depend on street parking,” she said.
Camarena said the City Council approved a Bike Plan in November 2008, which identified a network of proposed bicycle routes within the City. The Lindsay Bike Plan was subsequently adopted as part of the TCAG County-Wide Bicycle Network. On June 27, 2012, the City Council reviewed the proposed bike lane on Gale Hill directed staff to install a Class II bike lane with parallel parking.
Local columnist and community activist Trudy Wischemann noted the Council not unilaterally supported by the City Council in 2012, with former Mayor Ed Murray and Kimball stating they were not in favor of the parallel parking. Wischemann also presented a petition with 137 signatures opposing the idea of parallel parking on Gale Hill.
“I think we just leave it alone,” Councilmember Steve Mecum said. “Is this the only place where bike lanes are converting parking from angled to parallel?”
City Manager Rich Wilkinson explained the overall route could not be changed but how each section of the route will be designated is up for vote by the City Council. He said Gale Hill just happened to be the first street selected because it had recently been repaved and was awaiting striping for Council’s approval of the type of bike lane.
Camarena suggested designating Gale Hill as a “Shared Route” between cars and bicyclists by painting sharrows, a chevron pattern down the street signifying that the street was part of the City’s Bike Plan. Camarena said this would leave enough space for diagonal parking but meet the requirements of the already approved citywide Bike Plan.
Mayor Pro Tem Danny Salinas applauded citizens who respectfully voiced their concerns about the type of parking on the street.
“They way you brought it to us and presented it instead of saying we are doing something wrong,” Salinas said. “That is the way we should handle everything. All of the residents want angled parking, that’s fine. It’s that easy for me.”
Salinas motioned to approve diagonal parking with “sharrows” on Gale Hill Avenue. Kimball seconded and the motion passed unanimously.