For a long time, Penn State football fans have parked overnight in the State College borough for free during home game weekends, because the borough informally makes an exception for its parking prohibition from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.
But that will change this fall.
On Monday night, the borough council voted 5-2, passing an 18-month pilot program that will enforce the overnight parking restriction, as well as introducing a temporary permitting system for guests of Highlands neighborhood residents.
The Highlands Civic Association fought for this change for the past year. The neighborhood group says there’s an “overwhelming consensus” among residents to uphold the 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. parking restriction throughout the entire borough.
The pilot program will enforce those rules only in the Highlands neighborhood. Residents will have the option to purchase guest permits for overnight parking on their streets. According to the proposal, each house, apartment or fraternity can purchase a set of temporary permits that allows up to 60 instances of overnight parking each year.
David Stone, a Highlands resident, said the outcome isn’t what the association proposed, but he’s glad to see the progress.
“This decision,” Stone said, “will empower all residents, both owners and renters.”
Over a dozen students, including the presidents of the University Park Undergraduate Association and the Interfraternity Council voiced their opposition, citing concerns over drunk driving and claiming discrimination against fraternity house residents.
An online petition against the change gathered more than 1,800 signatures by Monday night.
UPUA outgoing speaker Brent Rice started the petition. Rice, who’s planning to stay in State College after he graduates and will soon become a Highlands resident himself, said this change is “anti-community.”
Borough Council member Dan Murphy voted against the pilot program, along with Council President Evan Myers. Murphy said he didn’t feel the support for the change, based on data, reports and the “sheer volume” of opposition.
In the plan for the pilot program, the borough staff outlined several potential issues, such as lacking data on the number of street parking spaces available and not having established the metrics to measure the success of the pilot in 18 months.
“I want to make sure we implement this pilot the best we’re able to,” Murphy said. “So that in 18 months, we have a robust conversation around how effective that pilot might have been or might not have been.”
The borough’s communication specialist, Doug Shontz, said the details of the plan are still unclear, but for the parts of town that won’t fall under the trial program, overnight parking during home games and the Arts Fest will still be excused.
The pilot program will go into effect in September 2018 and enforcement will begin in October.