In one of North Little Rock's older neighborhoods, Paula Lively points out safety concerns she has with a city-wide ban on front and side yard parking. The change was proposed by two aldermen after members of the Indian Hills neighborhood in their ward complained about the problem.
"If an emergency vehicle or the fire department need to get through it'd be very difficult," she said. "These neighborhoods weren't built with wide streets like they are now."
Narrow streets are a sign of the one-car family from the 1950s, quite a bit different from the multi-car society we see today.
"Our neighborhoods are very different, and they needed to be treated that way," Lively said. "In newer neighborhoods details like that were taken into account. But to treat this issue as what's good for one neighborhood is good for all is just not fair."
"It's just not logistically possible in some of these areas for those restrictions to take place," said Paul Myrick.
He has been gathering petition signatures in opposition of the ban over the past week.
"When we let people know they get kind of upset," he said. "The thing I hear most often is that the city can't tell them what to do with their yard. But it goes beyond that for the neighborhoods like Amboy and Levy. It's a safety issue."
The parking ordinance in North Little Rock already provides for an opportunity to restrict parking in yards down to as small an area as a city block. Three different areas of the city (Argenta, Lakewood, and Overbrook) have already become restricted parking districts using the current ordinance.
"We don't understand why this one neighborhood [in Indian Hills] doesn't want to do that and use the resources they already have," Myrick said.
In Monday night's City Council meeting, the ban's sponsors suggested a less drastic approach. They offered an amendment to the current restricted parking guidelines but removed the city-wide requirement.
"What they [petitioners] requested is really what we're doing. They want neighborhoods to have a choice so we're going to grant their wish.," said Ward Four Alderman Charlie Hight. "Instead of trying to force feed this on the entire city, we're going to put it back in the neighborhoods' hands."
The amendment would include Neighborhood Associations as able to request restrictions for their areas. The request would require both of a ward's aldermen to sign off on the request, in addition to the mayor.
The request would then be forwarded to the City Council for approval and public discussion. According to Hight it makes it easier to go through the process if an area is concerned about aesthetics but allows neighborhoods with certain safety or socioeconomic restrictions to have a say in what applies to their areas.
"I think this is a win/win for everybody involved," Hight said. "The safety concerns raised by petitioners were valid concerns. The original amendment we proposed to force no parking [in front or side yards] in the whole city wouldn't work everywhere."
"There are neighborhoods that don't have curbs, sidewalks, and some people don't even have driveways," Hight said. "Parking in their yards is necessary for them."
No vote was taken on the new amendment at the City Council meeting, and during a public comment portion, not everyone seemed pleased with the new alternative.
"I think this is a layer of complications we simply don't need," said Robert Fureigh. "The system we has works just fine. I just don't know that this amendment does anything."
But those who fought the city-wide ban, are pleased with the outcome as opposed to a wider restriction.
"That's more the direction we were imploring for them to take," Lively said.
So it seems, those who speak up when decision are going down in their communities can have an impact.
"When you do voice your concerns, when the community does get together, our council members do listen. It's a wonderful story to tell," Lively said. "You have to make your voice known and pay attention. Get out there and do the right thing for your neighborhood and your family and it can make a difference."