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Buffalo easing parking restrictions in snow-free months

Buffalo is trying something different to deal with the terrible parking situation on the city's West Side.

If you live on the West Side, parking is usually a problem. If you work on the West Side, parking is usually a problem. If you shop on the West Side...you know the rest. There just is not enough parking, especially on the many narrow streets.

"In the Elmwood Village, I can think of only one vacant lot in all of Elmwood. There's one little vacant lot," says Common Council Majority Leader David Rivera. "You have new businesses opening up. You see buildings going up, five floors, four-story buildings, more housing, more affordable housing, more market rate housing and it just creates more need for surface parking or street parking and that's what we're trying to do, provide more street parking."

Rivera says it is also about people moving in, making parking tighter.

"More density. More people are moving into the West Side, more business is being conducted and there just aren't enough parking spots for all of the people, especially locations like Elmwood, where we have institutions like Women and Children's Hospital, D'Youville College, Buff State," he says. "Wherever we have those big institutions, we have parking problems, so we're changing the parking patterns."

In addition, Rivera says it is a reflection of increasing immigration and an entrepreneurial spirit.

"That's everyone's goal, obviously, is to open up a business and own vehicles and homes. As we get more density, we're going to find more need for parking," he says. "and right now we don't have enough RAPP [Residential Area Parking Program] lots in the City of Buffalo, public parking, ramps in the neighborhoods. So we're trying to utilize the space a lot better, especially during the summer months. In wintertime, we can't do it because we need to plow the streets."

On the West Side there are streets with parking on one side of the street, during winter to handle snowplowing and year-round to handle Metro Bus service. Rivera says the city is easing some parking restrictions, to allow parking on both sides of the many narrow streets in the warmer weather, once the snow is gone.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.