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OTR residents grapple with permanent outdoor dining changes eating up on-street parking options

OTR parking and dining
Posted at 4:13 PM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 20:36:33-05

CINCINNATI — Living in Over-the-Rhine means many residents are just steps away from their favorite restaurants, bars and local shops the neighborhood is known for. But with a new city initiative to create permanent outdoor dining spaces, people who live in OTR are getting pushed farther away from convenient parking options.

"It's tough, it's tough. If you're not here before 4, 5 o'clock, there's no parking,” said Courtney Reed, who lives on Republic Street. "I'm a resident. I pay for parking. I pay yearly."

But some of that parking will soon go away. Last week, Mayor John Cranley and 3CDC announced a $2 million plan intended to "support local restaurants and increase outdoor dining options when warmer weather arrives in the spring." Those plans include closing several streets including a block near 15th and Republic. The other permanent changes involve constructing concrete curb bump-outs, expanding sidewalks and repurposing on-street parking spaces into elevated "parklets," or a small sectioned-off small park where outdoor dining can take place.

OTR resident Elle Parry lives on 15th Street and has found herself in the same boat as Reed -- a boat caught circling the harbor searching for a place to dock.

“Months ago, when it wasn’t there, you’d just come around and pull down Vine,” Parry said. “But now I think it’s a lot to have to go from 15th, to 13th, then Vine, back around Liberty, especially on the weekends, when there’s no parking. If you live here, you should be able to park outside where you live.”

Parry thought the inconvenience might be over once the pandemic subsides, but this doesn’t seem likely to ease up any time soon.

Cranley addressed OTR resident parking when he announced the permanent changes and said people have other options, like garages. He also said convenient parking was something many residents give up by choosing to live in OTR or Downtown.

"There's no entitlement to park on the city-owned streets,” Cranley said Friday. "People who have bought into and rent in downtown Over-the-Rhine were essentially moving into an urban environment that's not about having a car in a garage right next to your home, so it's a different lifestyle choice.”

Reed said he disagrees with the mayor on this point, but supports businesses in his neighborhood and their ability to succeed during the pandemic.

“Of course we want Cincinnati to be what it is; we want it thriving,” Reed said. “But also, we want to be comfortable, for residents who live here and have to deal with all the crowd noise, the different events that go on down here. We just have to live with it, but we want to be able to come and park when we get home from work.”

Cranley said his goal is to start construction of the permanent street spaces in January. Reed said he hopes the city will work on solutions for residents, too.

"Taking a lot of these abandoned lots down here, a lot of these spaces down here are more open…. Making it easier for people to understand where they can park. Because a lot of people really don't know where they can park,” he said.