Thursday, September 1, 2016

Dunwoody High School Parking Problems

Dunwoody High School does not have enough parking.  It's a supply/demand issue, and also a civics lesson as well.  Perhaps the Academy of Finance or AP Psych can take on this case.

In summary, the school has more students, teachers/staff, volunteers, and visitors than previous years.  And the number of parking spaces is less than prior to the school's remodeling a couple years ago.  As a result, DHS students are parking on residential streets (legally, and sometimes illegally), irritating some homeowners.

Vanderlyn parents have nowhere to park, nor do many visitors to DHS.  We've heard that some Vandy moms are no longer taking hot lunches to their kids at lunch time, and instead packing a lunch in a brown sack.  Things are tough.  

The DHS students have the same right to park on Vanderlyn Drive as the Vanderlyn parents, and students seem willing to arrive 45-60 minutes before school starts, preempting the Vandy mini-van / Volvo crowd.

And DHS resource officers/staff cannot/should not tell students they can't park legally on residential streets. On a side note, the guy 'directing' traffic at Vanderlyn Drive and Vermack needs a refresher course in traffic control. Reminds us of Mt Vernon by All Saints on  Sundays). Too bad that guy who used to direct traffic at Austin (the guy with all the stickers on his old SUV) isn't around to take over traffic by Vandy. 

Homeowners on at least one Dunwoody residential street have routinely been placing 'do not park on our street' notes on students' cars.  Sorry, they don't own the street.  If I owned one of those houses I wouldn't be super excited about students parking on the street either, but it's one of those risks when you buy a house a half block from two schools.  It reminds us a bit of the folks living near Brook Run who complain about hearing children play.  It also reminds us of the folks who live by the baseball fields on Roberts.  They oppose a school going in there.  Like the Brook Run floodplain posse, they believe the ball fields park is their private oasis. 

The local residents near DHS should know that the students really don't want to park on side streets.  They'd much rather park in a lot.  

Ride the bus?  I'm sure our seasoned citizens and Farmhouzers alike will remind us of the good old days when they walked uphill, both ways, for miles, to hitch a ride on old yeller. They rode the bus, and liked it. (some of our DPT members rode ole Buck or Dinkey, not a bus). But back when Mrs. Redfield-Spruill-Donaldson operated the old one-room Dunwoody grammar school, kids simply wrote on a slab of slate with chalk hand-mined from the earth, then went to work.  Back then we had no AP classes.  AP meant All Present, at work!  Kids as young as six months old worked on the family farm, or at the BrookRunner Stained Glass Window factory, or wiped tables at Mellow Mushroom, home to Hoeegarden on draft and fresh pizza made with spring-water pizza dough.  

Today's student takes classes at the local college part of the day, and needs a car to commute to and fro. Some students are taking classes at Fernbank and at DHS, needing a car.  Some kids play a sport or have an after-school club, and their parent(s) work.  There are many reasons why students drive to school.  But, there are some kids who drive simply because they want to drive, and could ride the bus.  

Carpool?  Many of the cars have more than one student.  And with graduated drivers licenses, some kids cannot have peers in the car.

Not all streets near DHS and Vandy are affected by parking.  At some point, prior to becoming a city, 'no parking' signs were installed on both sides of Hensley Drive.  I'm not sure who lives on that street, but they may have some connections.  After asking the Dunwoody police chief about opening parking on one side of that street, he said it's not going to happen.  Looking at a list of streets in DeKalb that have restricted parking, we do not find Hensley Drive  (see HERE for official streets).  Looks like a win for Hensley Drive residents. We'd like to see a traffic study that prohibits parking on Hensley, as stated in Section 30-104 of Dunwoody's Code of Ordinances (Comp. Ords. 2008, ch. 17, art. 4, § 3).  Section 30-111 discusses no parking on narrow roadways, but Hensley is much wider than 20 feet, as described in our code. 

But the parking issue is not from Hensley Drive and our police department (the police make regular visits to DHS to ticket illegally parked cars, so make sure your kid knows the rule.  If a No Parking sign is on the street, then no parking for that block, on that side of the street). 

current and future view of parking lot at Dunwoody High School

The solution is easy, and can be completely quickly.  All students, parents, visitors, Vandy spelling bee winners, and residents in the DHS/Vandy Education District need to contact our elected officials and school district staff (and may as well get city council involved).  The solution is to cover the retention pond and convert it into parking.  We realize the Wildcat swim team uses that pond, as does the Lady Wildcat ice-skating team (weather permitting), but we can always find another see-ment pond for swimming.

Look HERE and click on the Champion Jeep Dealership study for an example of what can be done to solve this issue.  Working together, this problem can be solved in a month.

Whom should you contact?  We are not sure who will make this decision, but we suggest contacting:

(be kind, state the issue and the solution)
school principal
school board member for District 1
regional superintendent for District 1
Chief Operations officer
DeKalb Super
mayor and city council (not their land, but they could help get this done, if they care)
And finally, to preserve the sanity of our readers, please no bike/bike lane/theater/floodplain/DHA comments.


SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

"And finally, to preserve the sanity of our readers, please no bike/bike lane/theater/floodplain/DHA comments."

Killjoy. Now there's no comments to make. ;-)

Marking this one to follow. My kids aren't driving or in high school yet but I want to be prepared for anything when the time comes.

Dunwoody Dad said...

As a resident of said nearby streets, I can personally attest to how difficult parking has become. We had one enterprising DHS junior leave a leaflet at our door asking if she could park in our driveway - and even pay for it.

A couple of immediate solutions that will help, even a teeny bit:
1) There is a "POD" portable storage container over by the back of the theater, taking up two spots. Why not move the pod over to the grass and open up those spots?
2) There is a small stretch of Vanderlyn Drive just to the east of its intersection with Vermack with no parking stripes at all. I know you need space for a fire truck to turn but even so I'll bet the City could get a few spots there.
3) I wonder if Vanderlyn is wide enough for diagonal parking instead of parallel parking? That would create more spots as well.

I'm assuming these are all city of Dunwoody issues and not school district issues (the city owns the street after all) so I'll direct my thoughts to our friends over by Perimeter Mall.

Anonymous said...

It's a no-brainer to cover the retention pond. DeKalb County Schools has screwed Dunwoody for years with that pond. They don't maintain it. They should make it an underground pond like they do at other schools by building parking over it. The city council should press the school district to do so. They could pressure the district to do this with their permitting or zoning powers. The district is a property owner just like everyone else.

John Heneghan said...

Dad, I have sent the following email to City of Dunwoody Public Works, Dunwoody Police Department, City Manager and copied the City Council and Principal Tom McFerrin. I am hopeful that more spaces and be found. John


As I believe you may be aware, parking at and around Dunwoody High School is very tough with more student drivers than the high school lots can handle. Parking on the neighborhood streets (either lack thereof or too much in the eyes of some neighbors) looks to be a sore spot for the community. Rick Callahan wrote a blog post on the subject and a comment was placed asking about the city improving the availability of some neighborhood streets, with specific locations mentioned.

Could your team along with the police department if appropriate please look to see where around the high school we could allow additional parking on our public streets.

Blog post link below - Dunwoody High School Parking Problems

Comment link listed below.


John Heneghan
Dunwoody City Council Member at Large

SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

Rick, down to serious questions and solutions:

During swim season, neighborhoods hosting swim meets will have temporary "no parking" signs on one side of the street. Similar to ones you see on side streets around Ariel on major holy days, etc. Are these a possible solution or are they too not legal?

Max said...

The "pond' should have never been allowed in the first place. Almost all new construction uses very large corrugated underground storm water retention tanks that have drain holes in them. Storm water goes into the tank and is slowly released into the soil. Surface parking may be allowed if properly engineered.

I suggested this years ago, but things move slowly with DCCS..

Anonymous said...

The reason for the cones or No Parking signs on one side of the street during swim meets is so fire trucks can still get through.

Anonymous said...

Two words - "Residential Parking" - So yes, while the streets are free and public, Dekalb county allows residents to petition for residential parking, and they need only 65% of the residents to sign per 4000 linear feet (really 2000, as each side counts) - So those who want their streets to be semi private, can do so and start the process. Our "no parking signs" were taking down during a movie, but they are returning soon so free parking on our street days are numbered.

Safety - parking the wrong way is illegal and dangerous. If you do it, and it's not obvious why it's wrong, you might need a refresher course in drivers ed, or ask a friend. Also, firetrucks are first responders, if they can't get down a street, someone life may be in jeopardy. So there are real consequences for needing space to navigate and turn down some of these streets.

Courtesy - throwing trash when you park in someone's neighborhood is the surest way to make yourself unwelcome. I have only seen this happen once, but it was a ton of trash, and one bad apple can spoil the bunch. Talk to your peers about not being trashy! they're representing you whether you want them to or not.

Anonymous said...

This issue is so big that there are going to have to be multiple solutions, and covering the retention pond is a good start.

Diagonal parking on Vanderlyn is also a great option. My son (a DHS junior who is tired of arriving at school at 7am to get a legal parallel spot) researched this option and found something called reverse diagonal parking, where the driver backs into the diagonal spot. Because the driver simple pulls forward to exit, the street doesn't have to be nearly as wide and it is much safer for both drivers and pedestrians since cars aren't backing into oncoming traffic. Admittedly, the concept of students backing into parking spaces sounds a little daunting, but it can't be worse than parallel parking, and it would double the parking on Vanderlyn Drive.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:16 AM,

So it's okay to allow parking/street use when neighbors are getting paid by a movie crew, but not okay for local residents to park?

Anonymous said...

Our police chief should meet with students. He spent more time driving city police car to Baton Rouge for a photo-opp then meeting with DHS. Police here love to twitter and facebook but seem to not meet in person, just writing tickets. Too bad our chief and all department heads don't live here. All they want is a paycheck and don't care and the marine general mayor kids went to private school so he don't care either

Anonymous said...

Another issue is because so many people held their precious little snowflakes back for a year that now there are many 10th graders driving to school. When DHS was built it was mostly juniors and seniors who were old enough to drive. I believe they also needed a parking permit to park on campus. They had a 'driving and parking is a privilege' sort of mindset back then. Now with overcrowding and the double whammy of a much higher percentage of students are of driving age, parking Armageddon.

Don't get me started on the rampant affluenza that ensures each snowflake with a license has their own car to drive as well. Maybe those cranky old people who wanted to limit the number of cars each homeowner could park at their house were on to something.

Back to the permits, maybe we should try the parking permit idea. Juniors and Seniors only and yes, the parking permit could be revoked for many reasons. The City would have to work with DeKalb to design, designate and enforce, but it's a much less intrusive solution than diagonal parking, opening up every street near every school for parking and paving over the beautiful pond.

Anonymous said...

The school does issue parking permits. Only seniors (not all) got permits. Some seniors, all juniors and sophomores are parking on the streets. There are not enough spots on school property for juniors to get permits.

I have noticed that parking near Moe's is crowded. Can the city restrict parking there also? I went to FoodTrucks at BrookRun and there were no spots in the lot by the skatepark. Can the city issue permits for that lot on Thursdays?

Anon 1:30, you are probably one of those fighting for parking limits for homeowners. Are you happy the Hispanic family on Mt Vernon with six Chevy trucks and the light-up palm tree moved out?

Anonymous said...

Why is their ethnicity important to mention?