Open Letter

Over the past few months there has been much discussion regarding the new parking ordinance that prohibits residents from parking in their own yards. This ordinance is being called a “blanket ordinance” that, as written, blatantly ignores the majority of concerns held by Irmo residents who are most affected by it….the majority of the residents voicing concern live in the New Friarsgate community.

At the August 10th Town Council meeting, steps were taken to repeal this ordinance with the expectation of further research and citizen input before drafting another ordinance to deal with resident parking. However, at the second reading of this repeal at the September 5th meeting, an amendment was added that essentially reverses the repeal and puts affected residents right back where they were. If this stands, residents who need to park off the street (but already have a full driveway) will be required to pay out of pocket to put down an approved parking surface or be subject to a $1,084 fine. Further action on the ordinance was deferred until after the upcoming election where the two council members who are in support of the residents and against this ordinance are up for reelection.

At this September 5th meeting Councilmember Mark Pouliot referred to the New Friarsgate neighborhood as looking “slummy.” Neither Mayor Hardy King nor Councilman Julius Waites offered any suggestion to use a less derogatory adjective. The word “slummy” or “slum” was used several times with no apology. Not only have our concerns been ignored, but now we have been slapped across the face by our leaders’ lack of empathy and insistence on having their own way….and then further insulted by having our neighborhood referred to as “slummy”. How insulting!

Let me elaborate on who lives in New Friarsgate and who is affected by the parking ordinances and the financial hardship it presents to many, regardless of the type of parking surface they put down:

1)The single parent trying to provide a home and yard for their children to grow up in while working to ensure the bills get paid and the lights stay on, the kids get fed, and that they have what they need to be successful in school.

2)Many teachers who educate our children in our award winning District 5.

3)Nurses who will save your life. And we all know nurses are over worked and underpaid, yet they continue to do their jobs.

4) Service workers, such as mechanics who keeps your BMW and Cadillac running when you don’t know what that light on the dash is for; the HVAC guy who crawls in your attic and under your house to service your unit every year and who you expect to come out on a weekend when your air goes out in 90degree weather; the construction worker who built your nice, big, multilevel home that could fit two or three of New Friarsgate houses it; the police officer who makes less than 40K a year but does his job and shows up when you need him there; the retail clerks who waits on you every time you go shopping; the pet groomers who keep your darling designer dog groomed and trimmed; the dental hygienist who keeps your teeth cleaned; the restaurant servers who don’t make minimum wage yet get stiffed on tips all the time; the hairdressers who make sure you look as beautifully manicured as your HOA demands keep your lawns….

5)the Veterans who served your country so we can have what freedoms we do.

6) the young adults working two jobs and going school full time so they can get a better job and have a better chance at life than their parents had.

7)families trying to work hard and pay off debt while saving for their kid’s college or a chance to move into different neighborhood.

8)the retired couple on a fixed income who did the best they could and still struggle to get by.

And we have been highly insulted. After calling the appearance of our existence “slummy” this parking ordinance catastrophe is nothing more than a legislative attempt to shame residents into living up to your aesthetic expectations based on your perceived elevated place in the community. Yard parking is not near the same eyesore as the criteria that makes an area slummy. This entire ordinance is nonsense and an elitist grasp for power. Walk in our shoes for a while before you legislate hard-working residents out of their unassuming existence and way of life. You may be surprised at how much we are willing to work with you when we believe our voices are heard and our circumstances considered –neither of which we believe to be the case.

A sincere apology from council would be nice, but not expected (and honestly at this point might not be believed). The best way to make amends and begin regaining the trust and respect of an entire neighborhood is through your actions. Focus on the things that have a bigger impact on a neighborhood, such as dilapidated and abandoned houses, road conditions, inadequate lighting for safety, etc. Remember, you are elected public servants who are expected to serve the needs of their community, not forcefully push personal agendas or insult entire neighborhoods.

 

Gloria Jordan

Irmo