Before hearing a presentation from two students about the parking problem at West Linn High School during a June 26 City Council work session, Mayor Russ Axelrod took a moment to address an unfounded rumor.
"We're getting tons of emails about the council considering changing the (residential) permit process (near the high school)," Axelrod said. "We're not. ... To my perspective, it's a school issue. We just offered for them to come to council and share. People can rest assured there will be no decision on anything today."
Still, West Linn High School students Rory Bialostosky and Ben Carr hope that change comes sooner rather than later, and used their time in front of the council to advocate for potential changes to a 1995 city ordinance that requires a residential permit to park on most streets near the high school. Bialostosky and Carr said they were not asking for a full repeal of the ordinance, but rather initiatives from the City that would free up additional space — particularly on both the West A Street and Broadway bridges over Interstate 205, as well as on Easy Street.
"We're only asking for rezoning, not a repeal," Bialostosky said. "(Public Works Director) Lance Calvert can survey the area where parking would be able to be accommodated."
"Getting to school should be a fairly simple thing for us," Carr added. "It's a little ridiculous to have to work so hard to accomplish that."
A number of residents who live near the high school were also in attendance to testify about the issue, and most said they did not want to see any changes to the parking ordinance. A petition with about 60 signatures to keep the parking ordinance was given to the council, though the residents also noted they were relieved that the council was not taking action that night.
The council, for its part, said it would work with the school district with the hope of finding a solution.
"I really appreciate you guys putting it out there, stepping it up and putting it forward," Axelrod said. "Not all kids would do that."
He added that biking, walking or carpooling should also be an option as opposed to driving.
"I realize not everyone can carpool, but a lot of students can carpool," Axelrod said. "Even if it's two days a week, each student rides with another person. That would be one of the things I would hope students would look at and consider."
Carr said about 34 students signed up for a new carpool program at the school, but for many it is not an option.
"While it does alleviate some of the problem, there's not enough people signed up and there's people like me who can't carpool because of schedules," Carr said.
City Councilor Teri Cummings wondered if there could be incentives set up for students to carpool, and encouraged creativity in coming up with solutions.
"What we've got here is a whole lot of dents thinking they can drive a car by themselves, and we're really trying to move away from that," Cummings said.
"As a community, we'll find a solution," Axelrod said.