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The city of Wauwatosa has taken a close look at parking in the commercial corridor along North Avenue — an area notorious for causing headaches to locals and visitors due to its seemingly sparse amount of available spaces.

The city hired international consulting and design firm Walker Parking Consultants to study and evaluate parking adequacy and policies between Wauwatosa Avenue and 60th Street along North Avenue.

Representatives from the firm said an increase in eating and drinking establishments and other businesses in that area in recent years have brought more drivers to that part of town and, in turn, have pushed vehicles into surrounding residential areas, causing frustrations for homeowners and customers alike.

Walker Parking Consultants has offered a number of preliminary recommendations, none of which include installing parking meters or a parking ramp — both options would require additional resources and costs. A parking ramp could require that some homes be torn down, said Ezra Kramer, a project manager with the firm.

'A parking structure is not the solution as people wouldn't be willing to walk three blocks (to their destination),' he said.

The firm has offered a number of recommendations, according to its report presented May 10 at Wauwatosa City Hall, 7725 W. North Ave., during a public informational meeting. Among them were:

· A standardized two-hour time limit for parking along North Avenue and on the north-south streets adjacent to the commercial buildings.

· Parking on the north side of Meinecke Avenue and the south side of Garfield Avenue would be removed to improve safety. The remaining parking along those roads would be restricted to four hours to provide spillover commercial patron parking.

· A one-hour time limit for all north-south streets within the study area, with an exemption for those with resident permits and their registered guests.

· Employee parking in private off-street lots.

Some residents in attendance at the public meeting raised concerns about some of the recommendations, especially about the suggestion that homeowners register visitors' vehicles through an online portal in return for a temporary street parking permit. The portal would allow residents to add guests in limited quantities and for limited time periods and would require a fee for the cost of administration and enforcement.

One woman asked if she hosted a party at her home, would she be required to register all the party guests' vehicles that were parked along her street? Kramer said yes, but added the online portal would be simple to use.

The consulting and design firm gathered information through a variety of approaches for the study; it received 512 responses through an online survey offered through the city's website, wauwatosa.net, and the project team met one-on-one with businesses and residents in addition to a public listening session held last month.

The proposed parking changes would require approval from a city committee and the Wauwatosa common council before implementation, said Director of Public Works Bill Porter. If approved, the changes would be implemented over time.

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