The Raleigh Planning Commission voted 5 to 3 Tuesday to recommend approval for a new zoning district that would ban Southwest Raleigh residents from using their front yards for extra parking.
City Councilors approved the law in June, but the law is implemented using overlay zoning districts to cover specific geographic areas.
Because of it’s proximity to N.C. State University and the high number of rental houses, coupled with a lack of on-street parking, Southwest Raleigh is considered to be priority one for the ban.
College students who rent the single-family homes in the area are considered by neighbors to be the biggest offenders.
The law bans residents from parking on the grass in front of their homes unless they construct a paved surface no larger than 40 percent of their yard or a driveway or a 380-square-foot parking pad, whichever is less.
Residents can also use gravel with permanent borders instead of a paved surface.
Residents who don’t have the desire or the financial means to construct a new driveway can park single file in their existing driveway or on the street.
Commissioners Marvin Butler, Waheed Haq and Isabel Mattox voted against the law.
Butler and Haq said they opposed the law because of the financial burden it would place on property owners.
Haq said not everyone can afford to retrofit their yards to meet the requirements. He acknowledged that residents can bypass the rule by parking single file, but “that’s not a solution,” he said.
“I think it’s a fairness issue,” Mattox said.
He said it isn’t fair to impose something on only one part of the city and would rather see the ban implemented throughout Raleigh.
Commissioner Mitch Fluhrer said he was on the Appearance Commission eight years ago when the issue first came to the table and that the original law would have covered the entire city.
“If we’re going to start somewhere, it’s a good start,” he said.
Other commissioners, including Commission Chair Linda Harris Edmisten, said they were in favor of eventually expanding the ban throughout Raleigh.
While many people spoke during the evening public hearing that referred the law to the Commission, Mary Belle Pate was the only resident to comment during the regular morning meeting.
A staunch advocate of the ban, Pate said she expects it will become a city-wide policy. She doesn’t think it would be a financial hardship for landlords.
“I look at this as improving neighborhood values for all of us,” she said.
City Council members will issue a final vote at their next regular meeting Sept. 18.
Commissioners John Buxton and Adam Terando were absent from Tuesday’s meeting.