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Parking expands in Elmwood Village

New Elmwood Village parking rules set to take effect from April to November will free up hundreds of spaces on Bidwell Parkway and other intersecting streets, making life easier for people like Alex Severyn who sometimes drive around for blocks looking for a place to park.

“I almost just got towed because I was blocking part of a driveway,” said Severyn on Wednesday afternoon.

His window seat at Caffe Aroma had a good view of his development company’s truck now safely parked in a roomy spot on Elmwood Avenue. “Sometimes just the cost of doing business in the Elmwood Village is a parking ticket.”

Just a few minutes earlier, officials stood a block away at Bidwell and Elmwood to formally announce a new plan to allow parking on both sides of the street 24 hours a day, seven days a week in warmer months, and lift single-side parking limits on 17 streets in the city’s popular district.

Alternate-side parking rules return during snow season – Nov. 15 to April 1 – so plows can clear streets.

“This is a holistic approach,” said Public Works Commissioner Steven Stepniak as he joined city council members to explain the change.

The new rules are expected to remedy frustration with lack of parking.

Stepniak said change in the Elmwood Village was the beginning of a process that may be applied to other parts of the city.

“Wherever there’s a street where more parking is needed,” he said, “we’ll look at it.”

Caffe Aroma manager Michaela Schmidbauer expected the extra street parking to be a boon for business. Customers tell her they skip coming in for morning coffee when they can’t find a space to park.

In her 13 years on the job she’s noticed street parking demand increase along Bidwell as more parked cars spread down the street from the nearby Buffalo Seminary high school.

“I think we will probably notice a difference right away,” said Schmidbauer of the extra parking allowed starting in April. “It’s quite exciting.”