City Council makes push for using public transportation

Monday, January 7, 2013 | 9:49 p.m. CST; updated 11:38 p.m. CST, Monday, January 7, 2013

COLUMBIA — The City Council passed a number of ordinances Monday night to spark more interest in the city's public transportation system.

In other issues, rental managers must now notify tenants about occupancy limits and drivers who want to park near the North Village Arts District will face more restrictions.

Among the changes related to buses, the council:

  • Authorized the transportation system to offer free or reduced fares for up to 45 days during the next fiscal year.
  • Gave students at Stephens College free access to the FastCAT downtown bus route with passes purchased by the school.
  • Approved free fares on FastCAT during the True/False Film Fest from Feb. 28 to March 3.

Earlier in the meeting, council members approved an amendment that requires real estate agents, landlords and managers of rental properties to add a notice to leases or fill out a form verifying that occupancy limits have been disclosed to tenants.

Currently no more than three unrelated people can live in R-1 and R-2, or one-family and two-family, zoning districts, and no more than four unrelated people in all other zones. The amendment aims to ensure that the tenants are aware of the occupancy requirements and should help document over-occupancy cases. 

The amendment will take effect Feb. 1 for all new and renewed leases. 

A request to reconfigure the parking regulations and meters around North Village Arts District inside the boundaries of Park Avenue, Orr Street, Walnut Street and College Avenue also passed. The area will be established as a residential parking district and will be reconfigured with one, two and 10-hour meters along with a Parking By Permit Only area to help take parking pressure off of residents. 

Twenty-six new, two-hour meters will be placed on St. James Street; the current 10-hour meters on Orr Street will be converted to two-hour spots; and 10-hour meters will be installed on the west side of St. Joseph Street. 

A six-month pilot project will make permits available to property owners and residents of the area. Permit stickers will be issued after residents register their vehicle with the city's Parking Utility.

The City Manager's office has transferred $20,000 from the Traffic Safety Project to help pay for the establishment and enforcement of the new area. Another estimated $8,100 will be covered by the Parking Utility. 

Another ordinance passed by the council allows for bids to finish and fill in three bays on the first-floor commercial area in the Fifth and Walnut parking garage. The area will house a restaurant and a small retail space. 

The council also passed a contract extension with Delta Air Lines until Feb. 15, when the airline will terminate service. The airline announced its intentions to drop Columbia Regional Airport beginning in February after the city made a revenue guarantee with American Airlines in October.

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