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Residents of Buffalo's Fruit Belt seek parking permit system

Residents of Buffalo's Fruit Belt neighborhood say as the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus has grown, so too has the issue of motorists invading their streets for free parking, at the expense of the people who live there.

Neighbors staged a protest Monday morning, parking numerous cars along several blocks, with balloons and signs attached to each car expressing support for the residents. Activists are calling for the implementation of a resident parking permit system.

Local block club leaders shared stories and photographs of overcrowded parking on their streets. In one photo, cars jutted in front of driveway entrances, making it difficult for the homeowner to move a car into their own driveway. Others say the congestion forces many neighbors to park blocks away from their homes, and sometimes illegally.

"Try and negotiate your garbage tote in between these tight cars," said Veronica Nichols, founder of the McCarley Garden Housing Task Force. "Sometimes, sanitation has to pass by these garbage totes. And then, the numbers of residents who are getting tickets because they have to park illegally, because the employees are parking (in legal spaces). How fair is that?"

Legislation to change traffic laws and allow the residential permit system was introduced in Albany by State Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes and by State Senator Tim Kennedy. The bill has been stalled in the Senate, with resistance coming from the Civil Service Employees Association, the union representing many workers on the medical campus.

A copy of a CSEA memo to state lawmakers discouraging the system was distributed during a Monday news conference hosted by neighbors.

Among those supporting the neighbors is Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen, who told those in attendance that the Common Council recently passed a resolution encouraging the Brown administration and city departments to explore and adapt a means by which residents could be assured parking by their homes.

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