61 Vandy residents remain frustrated following meeting with Charleston City officials

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Parking issues continue in downtown Charleston for some College of Charleston students and their parents following a City Traffic and Transportation meeting Monday afternoon.

Committee members discussed a residential parking permit appeal for 61 Vanderhorst Street, but because of a technicality where no "disgruntled applicant came forward", the committee was left to deny the appeal.

According to a city attorney, the company which owns 61 Vandy never applied for a parking permit, therefore no appeal could happen.

However, this didn't stop parents of College of Charleston students from attending the meeting out of frustration for the current parking ordinance within the city.

"We want them to have parking in front of their residence where it was working fine," said Cindy Lowery. "I'm not sure what happened."

On Dec. 19, Charleston City Council approved an ordinance change within the residential parking district.

The ordinance states, "No more than two residential parking decals shall be issued to each residential unit, and no more than six residential parking permits shall be issued per Charleston County TMS Number".

"Too many cars, not enough spaces, equals some people are going to have to find alternate ways to park other than on the streets of the City of Charleston," said Council member Mike Seekings.

Under the amended ordinance, this means of the 33 apartment units at 61 Vandy, only six residential parking permits are allowed for the location.

According to a lawyer who represented the apartment building at the meeting, there are 101 people who live in 33 apartments in the building. Lowery's daughter wasn't able to get a permit.

"Our kid's safety is at stake," Lowery said. "This has just been a nightmare for them."

In January Lowery's daughter explained how she and others are on high alert walking long distances to their apartment after a late-night assault near the apartment building.

"We've had to Uber, pick her up late at night," she said. "We finally found a place for $175, which is about as close as you can get to Vandy that we felt pretty safe with, but you know what, that's not in the budget. We had a parking permit for $7 a semester."

"This is a perfect example of a project that we need to look at and make sure doesn't happen in the future," Seekings said. "101 beds for six parking spaces is really not in proportion."

According to a 2000 parking study, there were 367 on street spaces available in the area.

From July until December of 2017 the city issued 694 parking permits.

"My daughter never had any problems finding parking so I don't really understand that," Lowery said.

"There's not enough parking spaces for everybody living on the peninsula," Seekings said. "For those out there, if you can live without a car, do it, because it's not going to get any easier in the near future."

According to 61 Vandy's lawyer, the building underwent renovations over the last few year, bringing the number of studios and one bedrooms down from 53 to 33. However, in the process, council members said the number of residents doubled to 101 because of added two and three bedrooms.

"We're in the process of doing a completely new parking study where we're going to look not only at this district but the entire peninsula… to see where the spaces are and how we meet them out appropriately, properly and fairly," Seekings said.

Lowery said she will once again reach out to the City's Traffic and Transportation Department in order to find a solution for her daughter and other students who live in the building.

Charleston city council members are expected to approved a contract for the new parking study next month. Based on the results of that study, there is a chance the parking ordinance could change again in the future.

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