SOUTH PORTLAND — A majority of city councilors indicated Monday evening they would support returning a disputed one-way section of downtown Ocean Street to two-way traffic with parallel parking on both sides.

The proposed change in the heart of the up-and-coming Knightville neighborhood would replace 15 angled parking spaces on the west side of Ocean Street between D and E streets with nine parallel spaces. The angled spaces were included in a 2012 road and sewerage improvement project at the urging of some businesses that wanted convenient parking.

Councilors Claude Morgan, Patti Smith, Maxine Beecher, Eben Rose, Linda Cohen and Mayor Tom Blake each said during a workshop session that they would support a return to two-way traffic with parallel parking. Councilor Brad Fox was absent.

Councilors called the current block-long, one-way section confusing, unsafe and poorly designed in the face of a growing need to promote optimum traffic flow in a neighborhood that’s attracting more businesses and residents.

“Looking at the bigger picture, I think it is the right thing to do for the neighborhood,” Blake said after the workshop. The council will take a formal vote on March 7.

Smith and Beecher both acknowledged having a change of heart since they voted to support the one-way back in 2012. Smith called it a “flip-flop.”

“I’m thankful for the do-over,” Smith said, noting that it was “critical” to have good traffic flow in all areas of Knightville, “not just part of it.”

Morgan warned residents that reducing the number of parking spaces on Ocean Street at a time when traffic and interest in the neighborhood are increasing means more people will be looking for parking spaces on residential side streets.

And while businesses don’t own parking spaces on Ocean Street, Morgan said, “please remember you don’t own those spaces (on the side streets) either.”

Supporters of two-way traffic said doing away with the one-way would free up additional parking spaces that are currently unavailable. Councilors also raised the possibility of adding speed tables on Ocean Street to prevent speeding if it returns to two-way traffic.

Both Blake and City Manager Jim Gailey apologized because city officials back in 2012 apparently ignored the fact that city ordinances require parallel street parking and prohibit angled street parking. As a result, the council failed to either prevent the spaces from being added to Ocean Street or amend the ordinances accordingly.

Councilors first heard from 21 residents and business owners, 12 of whom clearly favored returning to two-way traffic. The remainder either spoke in favor of keeping the one-way with angled parking or were unclear about their positions.

Annette Holmes spoke as a 60-year resident of D Street and one of 15 members of the city’s ad hoc Knightville Traffic Committee. Holmes urged councilors to get rid of the one-way section because it forces traffic onto residential side streets, violating the city’s comprehensive plan.

“The city has repurposed D and E streets for cut-through traffic,” Holmes said.

Joseph Walker, another resident who sits on the ad hoc committee, warned the council that amending city ordinances to allow angled parking would set a precedent for providing preferential treatment for some business and property owners.

Michael McGee, who also lives in Knightville, spoke in favor of keeping the one-way with angled parking and amending the ordinances to make it legal.

“As customers, most of us want convenient parking,” McGee said.

Michael Drinan was one of several business owners who spoke in favor of keeping the one-way and amending the ordinances to preserve angled parking, which they said is critical to keeping customers happy.

“(It’s) the best imperfect solution,” said Drinan, an ad hoc committee member who owns a real estate business and a commercial building on the one-way block, as well as a multi-family rental property on D Street.

Alan Cardinal, another ad hoc committee member who owns Smaha’s Legion Square Market, said after the meeting that 13 business owners on the one-way block have signed a petition asking the council to keep the angled parking. He said he expects many of them will attend the March 7 council meeting to plead their case before a final vote.

“I’m hoping (councilors) will see that they didn’t get the full picture tonight,” Cardinal said.