Parking in the News

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Authority Uses Garage's Cheap Price to Justify Rate Hike

Opposition to Downtown Parking Changes Heard 'Loud and Clear'

Customer Service Fuels Off-Airport Parking

Bismarck Hospitals Say Ramp is Necessary

Better Aesthetics by Design

Washington County Parking Deck OpensVideoIcon

New Parking Meter Rates, Expanded Hours Take Effect in Indianapolis

New York Continuing Practice of Issuing Thousands of Parking Permits

Gettysburg Parking Deck Equipment Up for Vote

Green Belts Turn Into Parking Lots

San Diego Parking Districts Set Up For Community Control

Jury: Helena Not Liable in Parking Garage Fall

Keene, N.H., Parking Plan on Track

Parking Executives Fill City Council Hearing on Rolling Back Tax

LED Bulbs Will Light Junction Parking Lot

Seattle City Council Approves Parking Near Light Rail Stops

East Tennessee State University To Build Parking GarageVideoIcon

Study Finds Parking Adequate, Enforcement Needed

Hoboken Announces Launch of New Online Parking Update Service

Change On The Way For SD Parking Meters

Newport to Privatize Parking Meters and Enforcement

Downtown Knoxville Parking Garage to ExpandVideoIcon

New NYC Finance Department Service Lets You Fight Parking Violations Online, Instead of In Person

Sioux Falls Airport Parking to Get Fix

Chapel Hill to See Sustainable Parking Meters

Business's Gripe: Parking Meters Drive Away Customers

Authority Uses Garage's Cheap Price to Justify Rate Hike
Glen Johnson / The Boston Globe
March 29, 2011

In 2008, when the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority increased rates at its Boston Common Parking Garage, it noted they remained some of the lowest in town.

Three years later, the authority has decided to increase prices again - with the same observation.

But what do the rates at a variety of surrounding, privately held parking garages have to do with the rates at the Common garage, a publicly owned facility? Taxpayers built it, first for the city of Boston, and then floated state bonds to reconstruct it.

What about the rising cost of materials, or debt, or personnel costs? Aren't they normally used to justify price increases?

None of those was the central focus last week when the authority's board, meeting in Springfield, voted to increase rates at the garage back in Boston.

Instead, a pricing presentation delivered before the board approved the rate increase focused on the garage's position within the market. And even then, the justification for a hike was thin.

"Other garages have no immediate plans for rate reductions or increases," said one slide in the 32-slide PowerPoint presentation. "Possess the flexibility to make rate changes as they please."

The increases that were approved take effect July 1, and in a world of $4 coffee, they may not be eye-catching on a dollar basis.

Short-term parkers during the workweek face the steepest hikes, $2 hits that boost the charge for the first hour from $8 to $10; for up to two hours from $12 to $14; and for up to three hours from $16 to $18.

But on a percentage basis, the hike is 25 percent at the low end of the scale and 12.5 percent at the high end.

And consider this: the cost for the first hour in the garage in 1995 was $4; come July 1, just 16 years later, it will be 150 percent more.

The cost of parking up to 10 hours will increase $1, from $22 to $23, while the rate for up to 24 hours is going from $27 to $28. Those are hikes of 4.5 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively.

Evening, weekend, and monthly rates are unchanged.

One slide in the presentation noted that the compound annual growth rate from the fees in 1995 through the previous hikes in 2008 averaged 4.3 percent.

An additional slide that could have been provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics would have shown the Boston-area inflation rate averaged 3 percent during that same span.

That is more than 25 percent lower than the growth in parking rates during the period. And it's a smaller percentage increase than any of the hikes approved last week.

Johanna Storella, the convention authority's chief financial officer, said the recovering economy and burgeoning parking market justify the increases.

"We wanted to take advantage of that upswing now, rather than in the future," she said.

Storella argued the garage can't be viewed in isolation but must be seen as one of four assets controlled by the authority: the garage, the Hynes Convention Center in downtown Boston, the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in South Boston, and the MassMutual Center in Springfield.

The assembly halls are "loss-leaders," she said, so the garage helps support them financially.

"Every dollar we forgo in a very successful garage operation is an extra taxpayer dollar we need in some other way," she said.

Storella added: "We have to be good owners of state assets, and part of that is operating it as any private asset. And when the market can bear a price increase, you make it."

That may be, but the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority is among those quasi-public agencies that seems to be public when it's opportune and private when it's not.

It was public when the Legislature created it in 1982 so it could oversee public entities like the garage and the Hynes.

It was public when the Hynes was re-built and re-opened in 1998. And the garage was public when the authority needed the state to issue bonds so it could be rebuilt between 1992 and 2003.

But now, with those bonds repaid through parking revenues; with the garage admittedly running in the black; and with neighboring garages displaying no immediate plans to increase their rates, the authority is adopting a private-sector mentality and increasing its costs - because it can.

Even with the increases, authority spokesman Mac Daniel told the State House News Service yesterday the rates "remain some of the most modest in town."

Folks who live on Beacon Hill, or like to park in a central location as they avail themselves of the Common, Public Garden, and some of the best Boston has to offer, may be happy to know that.

Opposition to Downtown Parking Changes Heard 'Loud and Clear'
Charles McMahon / The SeaCoast Online
March 29, 2011

Opposition is growing against a pair of proposals included in the city's Downtown Parking Omnibus that would have patrons paying for parking on Sundays and at the Parrott Avenue Lot.

Backlash against the changes gained steam Monday, when at least two members of a special downtown parking focus group and the chairman of the city's Parking Committee voiced concerns with the proposals.

One plan would allow the city to begin enforcement of parking regulations on Sundays, from noon to 7 p.m. The move would "promote parking turnover, potentially making on-street spaces available for those seeking to park near downtown businesses they intend to visit," according to the omnibus.

The move could mean an estimated annual revenue increase of $204,225.

The other proposal has the city metering the currently free Parrott Avenue Lot from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The rate would be 50 cents an hour and could mean an estimated annual revenue increase of $110,000.

The changes are among a list of 12 recommendations included in the parking omnibus. Some of the changes are based on a report from the Downtown Parking Focus Group called "A Report on Parking Impacts and Downtown Vitality."

Others are based on requests from members of the City Council.

On Monday, Donald Coker, a member of the Planning Board and chairman of the Downtown Parking Focus Group, said the two changes in question were never recommended by the original focus group.

"This whole thing has been hijacked," he said.

Coker said it appears the additions to the omnibus were done by councilors in order to identify more revenue. Councilors Eric Spear and Tony Coviello recommended the changes.

"From the perspective of our recommendations, parking is a money maker," said Coker. "So what's happened is that some members of the City Council, in their infinite wisdom, have seen a cash cow, and now they're going after it."

While Coker said the seven recommendations made by the parking focus group should be included in the omnibus, some of the additional changes included are leading the city in the wrong direction.

"It's like somebody threw the switch on a railroad and we're heading off on a siding here," he said.

Coker said he doesn't support either of the proposed changes.

"I'm not aware of any place in the state of New Hampshire that charges for parking on the street on Sunday," said Coker.

Metering the parking lot on Parrott Avenue would come at the detriment to the various downtown workers, he continued.

Downtown business owner Jay McSharry, who was part of the parking focus group, said he was concerned metering the free parking lot would be "irresponsible" on the city's part.

McSharry said there are not enough free places to park in the city to begin with, and the move could shift the burden onto those in the hospitality industries who don't necessarily have high incomes to begin with.

"You can't create a budget on the backs of the people who need the parking," he said.

City Councilor Ken Smith, chairman of the Parking Committee, said he is also against both proposals. Smith said the city has considered metering the Parrott Avenue Lot in the past, and the response from citizens and workers was loud and clear.

"It is something that is very strongly opposed by people who use that lot," he said. "They are the waiters and waitresses and shopkeepers and bank tellers. They need a place to park, too."

In addition, Smith said he would be nervous that metering the lot would push those workers out into the neighborhoods.

If the city were to enforce parking regulations on Sunday, Smith said it would only increase operational costs and would take away from the appeal of the downtown.

"It's the one time everyone gets the chance to enjoy the city without having to look over your shoulder," he said.

The changes will go before the council for first reading on April 4. Councilors will have to consider approval on all 12 of the recommendations separately and cannot simply accept the entire omnibus as a whole document.

If approved, the changes would go back to the council for a second reading and a public hearing later in April.

Customer Service Fuels Off-Airport Parking
Georgann Yara / The Republic
March 28, 2011

In 2007, Sky Harbor Airport Parking General Manager Jason Pasley made a business decision that caused him to lose dollars but ultimately allowed the site to remain the only off-airport parking facility standing with owners from metro Phoenix.

The 2,104-space lot his father Al opened in 2002 had been consistently about 90 percent occupied through 2006. When the economy started to take a dive and income and investments dwindled, Pasley noticed a decrease in travel that resulted in a decline in his customer base.

While other lots around him lessened their shuttle runs to and from the airport, Pasley took the opposite approach and increased his frequency, regardless of the number of passengers in his vans or the rising cost of fuel.

As others folded or gained the reputation of being inconsistent, his became the constant.

"I kept the vans running, whether there was one or nine people on. We stepped it up . . . lost money to keep customers," Pasley said. "That's the reason why we're still here."

Pasley's shuttles arrive at the terminals every 5 to 7 minutes and leave the lot every 3 to 5 minutes. The lot is 4 minutes from the airport, which appeals to the large number of pilots and other airline employees who are Pasley's regular customers. Usually, the time it takes for Pasley's customers to get from their car to their terminal is faster than if they were to park at one of the on-site lots, he said.

Cost is $8.50 a day, with covered parking an additional $1 or $2, depending on the time of year. There are discount rates on the website, and the company accepts competitors' coupons.

Drivers pick up and drop off customers at their vehicles and handle their luggage. At night, they will wait for customers to get in and start their cars before leaving. Employees are prepared to inflate a tire that has gone flat or jump a battery that has died while the owner was away.

Efficiency and courtesy comprise the simple yet effective customer service that Pasley said has been key to success.

"Other places may give you a newspaper, a coffee or water. We get you where you need to go. We know how to get you there and how to do it right," he said.

Pasley's father Al purchased the property in 1981 when it was dirt and farmland. Pasley's office is located in the expansion of the original farmhouse that was on the property.

At the time, Al owned a chain of travel agencies and allowed clients who purchased a ticket from any of his offices to park in his lot for free and gave them rides to the airport.

Ownership changed over the years, and the property expanded to the current 10 acres it sits on today. Nine years ago, Al took over ownership again and renamed his facility with his son in charge of running the business.

Being locally owned gives Pasley the freedom and flexibility to accommodate special requests.

"There's no red tape. If you need special treatment or need something done, there's no one else to talk to. It's done," he said. "I hope that people that are nervous about parking off-site give us a chance."

California-based attorney Ted Schlink has been a client of Pasley's for years, using the lot about three times a month when he is in town on business or spending time in his Phoenix home.

Once he accidentally left his windows rolled down for three days but returned to find nothing disturbed in his vehicle parked in the lit, fenced-in lot that has 24-hour on-duty security. Another time, he was on the shuttle when he realized he forgot his cell phone in his car. Schlink was able to take the van back to the lot, grab his phone and made it to his terminal in plenty of time to catch his flight.

Schlink said he appreciates the clean restrooms, courteous staff and no-nonsense service.

"Compared to the airport shuttle and garage, it's faster," he said. "It's a great outfit. It's a good start to your trip and a good end to it."

Bismarck Hospitals Say Ramp is Necessary
Christopher Bjorke / Bismarck Tribune
March 28, 2011

Bismarck's medical community is renewing its request to the city to build a central parking ramp, likely to be paid for in part by its users.

"We need to pick up 400 to 500 spaces," said Medcenter One Executive Vice President Scott Boehm. "There's not enough surface left any more."

Medcenter One and St. Alexius Medical Center are two of the city's biggest employers and the destination for thousands of staff and patients and others doing business there. They also are hemmed in downtown, limiting their growth and making it difficult to provide parking for so many, among whom are patients who have trouble walking or negotiating the area's busy intersections.

"Parking is pretty critical," Boehm said. "Especially for people with ambulatory problems and mothers carrying children."

The two hospitals, along with the University of North Dakota Center for Family Medicine, want the city to build a ramp between Seventh Street and Ninth Street along Thayer Avenue and across the stretch of Eighth Street that the city vacated and is now owned by the hospitals. There is no plan yet for construction or financing, but the cost of the ramp likely would be covered by the medical organizations.

"The people that use it would actually be paying for it," according to Boehm, who said the structure could be paid for by long-term lease arrangements by the users.

City Commissioner Parrell Grossman, who has the parking portfolio, said he could see an arrangement in which the city issued a bond to pay for the construction and assessed the users for the payment of the bond.

"This is something I think that's been on the horizon for a number of years," Grossman said. He said that the city's involvement would be led by the medical organizations.  "It's something that we see as a process driven by the demand from the medical community."

The need for parking in the medical district will be greater when the new Center for Family Medicine is completed at the corner of Rosser Avenue and Seventh Street later this year.

Randy Eken, an associate dean with UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences, said the clinic would need 80 or 90 parking spaces. He said the medical school chose the new location because of its proximity to the hospitals with the expectation that more parking would be added later.

"I do understand that there have been parking discussions going on," he said. "This was really ideal and couldn't have been a better location for the school."

Boehm said that the city should be involved in the structure because of its involvement in the other downtown ramps. Grossman said the city parking authority could possibly manage the ramp.

"Nobody's committed any one way of doing it," Boehm said. "It could be many different structures of who does what."

The Tribune called St. Alexius two times, but they did not provide a comment for this story.

The city has been planning another downtown parking ramp on North Sixth Street, between Broadway and Thayer Avenues, with Medcenter One being one of its users. That project has been on hold for a year because of a lawsuit that halted the city's use of tax increment financing that would have paid for the project.

Grossman said it was too early to say how the need for a Sixth Street ramp would be affected by another parking structure between the hospitals.

"There's a possibility of a need for both ramps," he said.

A ramp for the medical organizations would not be financed through tax increment financing, which designates a portion of city tax collections to pay for downtown improvement projects, and would not be affected by the lawsuit, brought by Bismarck businessman Erling "Curly" Haugland.

Better Aesthetics by Design
Will Guldin / Columbia Daily Tribune
March 28, 2011

When the city of Staunton, Va., built its newest parking garage, it had to put up extra signs so people could find it. It's easy to spot, but it just doesn't look like a garage.

Three large, arched windows greet visitors as they drive up to the 9-year-old building. It resembles a train station from one angle, but around the corner, the design morphs into a downtown business façade that lines the building's length.

Although there is some retail space, most of the outer work is an illusion that hides a four-story garage with parking for 277 cars.

It was one of several garages Columbia's Downtown Leadership Council looked at last week.

The group discussed how there are different design options for the new Short Street garage, which is planned to be built alongside the Regency Hotel redevelopment on East Broadway.

A public meeting tomorrow morning also will focus on the garage's design.

The group's chairman, Randy Gray, said it's important to talk about this now because the city has only one shot at the project. "Once it's done isn't the time to argue about the design of the structure," he said.

Staunton Vice Mayor David Metz said discussions went on with the public about a year before construction began.

The garage was built next to the Stonewall Jackson Hotel, which has been remodeled. Doing the extra cosmetic work added $500,000 to the garage's original $4 million price tag, he said.

"It caught on with the public that maybe we should spend a little bit more on the façade and make it look like it was always there," Metz said.

A local firm, Frazier Associates, came up with the idea for the building. Co-owner Kathy Frazier originally took inspiration from New York City's Grand Central Terminal.

"I don't think today you'd hear one complaint about the extra half-million it took," he said.

The Downtown Leadership Council looked at several other designs as well.

One, in Santa Monica, Calif., won LEED certification for its green building attributes, which include a rooftop solar array, recycled construction materials and a filter system for stormwater runoff.

A Kansas City garage next to the Central Library downtown features a "Community Bookshelf" of more than 20 large book spines along one of its sides. The spines are 25 feet high and include titles such as "Charlotte's Web" and "Lord of the Rings."

A public meeting with Walker Parking Consultants to discuss the Short Street garage design is scheduled for 10 a.m. tomorrow in one of City Hall's first-floor conference rooms, Assistant City Manager Tony St. Romaine said.

"This is one area of downtown Columbia where we have an opportunity to do something creative," he said.

Washington County Parking Deck Opens
4029-TV Fayetteville
March 28, 2011
Watch the Video News Story

After many delays, the new parking deck for the Washington County Courthouse in Fayetteville finally opened Monday.

"We're trying to set it up so most of the parking for employees will be on the lower level. then the public will have the upper level. All they've got to do is park on the upper level, then walk in the front door, and it's a whole lot more convenient for them," said Washington County Judge Marilyn Edwards.

Edwards said there are still a few cosmetic changes that will be made over the next couple of months, but as far as safety is concerned, the new deck is ready for business.

The deck was originally scheduled to open in August 2010, but delays push the opening back to December, then to Monday. The total cost of the project was over $6 million.

New Parking Meter Rates, Expanded Hours Take Effect in Indianapolis
Kjerstin Ramsin / FOX59 - Indianapolis
March 28, 2011

The price to park in Broad Ripple and downtown Indianapolis just went up. Monday, a rate hike along with expanded hours went into effect for parking meters.

About 1200 new meters, which allow you to pay with a credit card, have been swapped out already. The rest of them are scheduled to be installed later this spring and summer.

As of March 28th, the hourly rates will jump from $.75 to $1 per hour. The meters will now run from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. effecting those who get their morning cup of coffee as well as those who go out to dinner. Parking will still be free on Sundays though, along with eight holidays a year. The rates will jump again next January with most of the meters having a hourly rate of $1.50 an hour.

New York Continuing Practice of Issuing Thousands of Parking Permits
Andrea Bernstein / WNYC-News
March 27, 2011

Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration is continuing to issue thousand of parking placards to state legislators and state government employees. Those placards permit the bearer to park in most areas in New York City where others could not. Many of the permits read "This vehicle is on official police business," even though they are frequently carried by officials with no law enforcement responsibilities.

Spokespeople for the governor, assembly speaker and senate majority leader could not immediately say how the placards are distributed, who gets them, or why.  But Queens State Senator Tony Avella - who cut up his placard and then issued a press release about it - said "it's the kind of business-as-usual we promised to reform."

Avella said he would not use his placard because, as a state senator, he should experience New York the way his constituents do "and that includes looking for parking." 

"I'm not on official police business, nor is any politician who gets one of these 'on official police business,'" Avella said

Other elected officials have said in the past that having the placards enables them to attend several community events in a day, and that driving around looking for parking would mean they couldn't serve their constituents as effectively.

Despite repeated inquiries over the course of a week, Cuomo's spokesperson, Joshua Vlasto, did not explain why the placards refer to "official police business," even if it is not the case.

Several years ago, Mayor Michael Bloomberg was caught up in a controversy when it was revealed that there were some 140,000 placards in use by city employees.  Those placards also used to refer to "official police business." But the mayor promised to reduce city placards by half, and changed the language for non-law enforcement officers to "this vehicle is on official city business."

The placards were a potential embarrassment  -- nothing irks a New York City resident more than the whiff of a city official getting a privilege he or she does not.  But also, making it easier for city employees to park could be an inducement to drive to work at a time when Bloomberg is encouraging everyone to drive less and take mass transit more.

Other mayors around the country have also bee  eliminating employee parking privileges, most notably former Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco, who took away the right of city employees to park free at meters.

When asked if Cuomo would look at changing practices involving the state permits, Vlasto said in an email, "We are reviewing the matter."

Right now, some 6,000 placards are distributed by the state, according to the David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the Office of Court Administration, which oversees the production of the placards. Some 3,500 go to New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. Those placards read "State of New York Executive Branch."

A spokesman for that Division, Dennis Michalski, could not immediately say on Friday how the recipients of those 3,500 placards are chosen.

In addition, Bookstaver said, some 2,500 placards are distributed to the New York State Judiciary, and some of those - about 100 - go to the New York State Department of Environmental Protection, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Waterfront Commission. Those entities do have law enforcement responsibilities.

Avella was also unsure how he was chosen to receive one. He said his placard was delivered to his Albany office, and that his understanding was that all state senators received them.

A spokesman for the Republican Senate Majority Leader, Scott Rief,  said placards had been distributed previously by majority leaders as a perk, but he said that practice had ended.  The governor's office also did not offer clarification on how the placards are distributed.

The pro-transit advocacy group, Transportation Alternatives, has been working for many years to shine on light on the practice, which it says encourages the use of personal vehicles over other forms of transportation, a practice they say is environmentally harmful. 

"This is one of those things that recipients don't question, because things have always been done this way. But widespread distribution of placards for people who don't need them has got to stop," TA's Noah Budnick said.

Gettysburg Parking Deck Equipment Up for Vote
Scot Andrew Pitzer / The Gettysburg Times
March 27, 2011

Nearly two years after former Gettysburg Manager John Lawver declared that the Parking Garage equipment was on "life support," it looks like the borough is finally going to replace the machinery.

According to a preliminary agenda, the nine-member Gettysburg Borough Council plans to consider a motion at its regularly-scheduled business meeting Monday night, to "award a contract for the purchase and installation of automated parking equipment for the Race Horse Alley Garage."

The borough, of course, owns and operates the multi-level parking deck, one block north of Lincoln Square, with 350-plus parking spaces.

Built in 1989, the deck's equipment has never been replaced.

It's also very outdated. So outdated, that you need a person to manually operate the equipment.

Parts are unavailable for some of the machines.

And the entrance lever has been held together with bandages, in the past.

"When we bought the equipment 19 years ago, it was already out of production," said Borough Finance Director Ramona Overton. "They aren't making parts anymore. One day, when this breaks, it's all over."

So, yes, it is time to order new equipment.

Officials expect the new, automated parking equipment to handle cash or credit, and recoup parking revenues over a 24-hour period.

The borough is unable to do that now, with only cash accepted, so any motorist that leaves the garage overnight does not pay.

There were some hold-ups in the process, as officials couldn't agree on the type of equipment they wanted - - - some officials wanted fully automated equipment, while others wanted credit only, and others wanted cash plus credit, while others wanted manual equipment.

A simple process turned out to be difficult. But now, the borough has the money, after it floated a $3.8 million bond last year for capital projects. It's been a long time coming, that's for sure. Looks like we'll have new equipment around the Fourth of July holiday, or shortly thereafter. It will be nice to see equipment in place that isn't held together with duct tape.

Green Belts Turn Into Parking Lots
Nidhi Singhi / The Times of India
March 26, 2011

The municipal corporation authorities are turning a blind eye to parks turning into parking lots.

Lack of parking space has forced people to convert the green areas into parking lots, as a result of which people avoid going to parks to spend some quality time in the lap of nature.

There are several parks in the city that are being used as parking lots and the civic authorities are not taking any action to curb this practice. The parks in the Model Town market, Haibowal, near Dandi Swami Chowk and even on Ferozepur Road have been converted into parking lots. Cars and scooters are seen parked in a haphazard manner in community parks and there are areas where these parks are even being used for drying clothes by residents. Besides , heaps of garbage are seen lying in community parks, which obviously is a very unpleasant sight.

Amrit Kaur, a retired school teacher and a resident of Dugri says that many families in the colony own several vehicles, so there is no option for them but to park them in parks. She adds that the authorities should provide parking space in residential areas so that residents don't make use of parks for the same.

Echoing similar sentiments, Kewal Krishan, a businessman and a resident of Model Town points out that there is no space in the market for consumers as well as shopkeepers to park their vehicles and if they park their vehicles on the road, then that causes traffic jams. Krishan adds that the problem can be only be solved if a separate area is allotted for parking.

"The neglect of the civic authorities has resulted in parks being in a pathetic condition. If the authorities had taken care to maintain the parks, then residents could have got a chance to spend some time in the midst of nature," says Shaveta Bhandhari, a college student, who is a resident of Madhopuri.

Sunil Mehta, an interior decorator, who is a resident of New Harbans Nagar says matter of factly that everybody could not go to Rose Garden or Leisure valley for morning walks, so the corporation should pay attention towards developing parks inside the colonies too. But the corporation officers shift the blame on the residents for the parks being in a bad way. Says Surinder Kumar, landscaping officer with the MC, that the residents could also help them in developing parks, but they don't take any interest in maintaining green belts and parks.

San Diego Parking Districts Set Up For Community Control
Adam Pollack / San Diego Examiner
March 25, 2011

The coins that residents drop into parking meters are the community's investment to manage. Starting April 5, parking advisory groups will take meter readings and watch over parking habits in their districts to decide the best meter rates, time limits, and metered parking hours and advise the city on how to get the most money to use for keeping the parking zone streets and traffic in good condition. City staff will confirm the residents' findings and the Mayor will make the final parking meter decisions.

The city council gave its final approval on the new parking meter ordinance on Wednesday, March 23, 2011. Councilmembers Kevin Faulconer, Todd Gloria, Tony Young, Lorie Zapf, and David Alvarez voted yes. Members Sherri Lightner and Carl DeMaio voted no. Marti Emerald did not come to the table to vote.
Work on streets in and around the parking meter zones has long been paid for with meter money. The new ordinance is designed to raise revenue by increasing parkers' meter utilization. The law sets a target of cars in metered spaces 85 percent of the time.
Shoppers and playgoers around town will pay at spaces with either a single space meter or a multi-space meter.
The district gets 45 percent of the revenue, and the city 55 percent. The money can be used to fix potholes near metered spaces, repaint curbs, restripe the streets for angular parking, put in a stoplight, or put up a sign showing the way to the public library. No private developments, including business parking spaces, can get funded with parking revenue. The city will also not rubber stamp funding for local advertising or a walkway art mural. 

The city gave the communities in the six parking districts more control with the intent of letting them adjust the meter set up to meet their parking demands and resolve parking problems. Rates can be set in any amount from $0.25 to $2.50 per hour. On days other than Sundays and holidays, the meter hours can be set earlier than the current 8 am, as early as 7 am, and later than 6 pm, in the evening and night hours, 11 pm the last minute of opportunity to make more meter money.
Under the new policy, the residents that pay for the bills lay the parking plans at the door of the Mayor.

Jury: Helena Not Liable in Parking Garage Fall
The Great Falls Tribune
March 25, 2011

A Helena jury found the City of Helena was not negligent in the death of a 24-year-old man who fell from a parking garage after a night of drinking in December 2009.

The parents of Kyle Grove sued the city, claiming it knew the structure was dangerous and did not put up barriers or warning signs.

Grove fell about 30 feet in a 10-foot-wide gap between a public parking structure and another parking structure. The edge on both walls is about 3 feet high. The lawsuit says Grove apparently thought he could climb over the first wall and walk over to the second.

The city argued Grove was drunk and high and the fall was due to his high-risk behaviors.

The jury voted 10-2 Thursday in favor of the city.

Keene, N.H., Parking Plan on Track
Dave Eisenstadter / The Keene Sentinel
March 24, 2011

The city's plan for downtown parking will proceed, despite opposition from abutters.

A City Council committee unanimously recommended Wednesday to ask Police Chief Kenneth J. Meola to use his 90-day emergency powers to enact the plan.

In 60 days, Meola, Fire Chief Gary P. Lamoureux, Public Works Director Kurt D. Blomquist and City Manager John A. MacLean will return to the council with a recommendation on whether to adjust the plan or make it permanent.

The proposed plan replaces lost parking resulting from the construction of the new central fire station, which will be located on what is now the Elm Street parking lot. Of the 153 spaces currently in the lot, only 75 will remain after the project's completion, and fewer will be available during construction.

To allow for more on-street parking, the city proposes making one-way streets out of Mechanic Street, Middle Street, Summer Street and parts of Vernon and Elm streets.

At a meeting on March 9, residents and business owners complained the plan would disrupt the area, hurt businesses and did not adequately address parking needs.

City officials came back with a slightly tweaked plan Wednesday.

Dissatisfied with that plan, MacMillin CEO and Chairman William C. Walker said he had a potential fire station plan that could save the city millions and would more adequately address parking, but declined to give details about the proposal in a public forum.

Offices for MacMillin, a construction company, abut the Elm Street lot.

MacLean, whom Walker had spoken with earlier, recommended against the plan, saying it would delay the station's construction, but urged Walker to send a letter to the City Council as soon as possible if he was serious about the plan. Construction is scheduled to begin soon.

Lamoureux began Wednesday's meeting by going through the history of the project.

The Elm Street lot was deemed to be the ideal spot for the fire station initially in 1999, but was delayed after the city acquired the property at 350 Marlboro St. in 2001, according to Lamoureux. The intent was to build a combined public works, police and fire facility.

That plan changed late in 2005, when Lamoureux recommended keeping the central fire station in the Vernon Street area.

"We found that 350 Marlboro St. was not the location for the fire department because of response times," Lamoureux said Wednesday. "The majority of our calls are in the downtown area."

Meola said the parking plan came as a result of lost parking in the area, and was tweaked after many staff meetings with residents and business owners since the March 9 meeting.

Changes to the plan include allowing on-street permit parking holders to reserve specific streets, establishing a contact person people can call with any parking problems and installing signs directing drivers how to get to certain businesses or certain streets using the new traffic pattern.

MacLean added that many expressed fears the parking situation would be permanently disrupted, and wanted hope that a solution, such as a parking deck, was coming down the line.

A plan to finance and build such a parking deck is now in the works; financing can be assembled in three years and construction can be completed in four, he said.

MacLean and City Finance Director Martha M. Landry plan to expand the city's downtown Tax Increment Finance district to include the area of the fire station, which is likely to produce future tax revenue that can pay for the project, he said.

Some residents still weren't satisfied, raising concerns over the safety and effectiveness of the plan.

Former Keene mayor Aaron A. Lipsky inquired whether building the fire station would preclude the city from proceeding with a parking structure.

Lamoureux said the station plan accounted for the future possibility of a three-tier parking deck.

City Councilor David C. Richards said the fire station project has been difficult, like any construction project can be, but he had no interest in delaying it.

"I'm not a big fan of one-way streets, but the reality is we gain a lot of parking," Richards said, then made the motion to accept the plan.

Committee Chairwoman Pamela Russell Slack thanked residents for their input, saying that the plan was originally delayed to give them time to express concerns to city staff. It was evident many of them did, she said.

"We don't have the intention of letting this drop. We're recommending this temporarily so we can keep our eyes on it and I believe that is what everyone on this committee intends to do."

Parking Executives Fill City Council Hearing on Rolling Back Tax
Troy Graham / Philadelphia Inquirer
March 24, 2011

Three years after the city raised the parking tax from 15 percent to 20 percent, industry executives filled City Council chambers with their workers Wednesday to ask for some relief.

The answer they got back: We'll see.

Councilman James F. Kenney has introduced a bill that would roll the tax back to 15 percent over the next five years, but the Nutter administration opposes the cut.

Kenney said during a public hearing on the measure that talks with the administration would continue to decide a "fair level" for a tax cut. His bill was held in committee, and he said he expected more public hearings on the matter.

"I've agreed that we shouldn't have a higher parking tax than New York," Kenney said. New York's parking tax is slightly higher than 18 percent.

Any cut would have to be offset with new tax revenue, he said. The parking industry has suggested several measures, including cracking down on more than 100 unregulated lots that pay no taxes.

Robert A. Zuritsky, president of Parkway, the parking management and real estate development company, said that in addition to paying $12 million more in taxes to the city in 2008, when the tax increased, lots and garages lost $30 million that year because of the recession.

"A $42 million hit in one year," said Zuritsky, who also heads the 17-member Philadelphia Parking Association.

Parkway went through its first-ever large-scale layoffs and wage freezes, he said. Business was down about 8 percent after the tax hike and has yet to recover fully.

"We're hurting," Zuritsky said. "We need some relief. We hope the city hears us."

Parking rates have remained flat or even dropped since the tax increase, he said. Profit margins are so thin, he said, that companies cannot make improvements and investments.

One South Broad Street garage owned by Central Parking is using just the first floor because the elevators that had moved cars are old and need repairs, Zuritsky said.

"If we can't fix and maintain our garages and if we can't pay a decent wage, long term our industry is going to suffer," he said. "Business is still terrible. What's going to happen? I don't know."

LED Bulbs Will Light Junction Parking Lot
Mary Stegmeir / The Des Moines Register
March 23, 2011

It's out with the old and in with the new for Valley Junction's parking lot lamps.

Starting this spring, the area's 34 light fixtures will be retrofitted with LED bulbs. The new lamps are more energy efficient than their high-pressure sodium bulb predecessors, and will serve those who visit the neighborhood's business district after dark.

"I think this is a great project," said Mayor Steve Gaer. "There will be better light distribution, less spillover into adjacent residential properties, and there's an energy savings."

The project - paid for through a community development block grant and federal and state energy efficiency and conservation block grants - will be completed by July 1. The City Council awarded a $53,610 contract Monday to Wolin Electrical to make the switch. The light fixtures to be fitted with LED lamps are located in public parking lots in the 100 to 300 blocks of Fourth Street, and in the 100 to 300 blocks of Sixth Streets.

"I think it's great that they're moving toward something that's more efficient and less-intrusive to the neighbors," said Lori Ferris, who owns Heart of Iowa, 211 Fifth St. "As long as it's keeping it bright and safe for everyone down here, I think it's win-win."

Linda Schemmel, an associate planner with West Des Moines, said the project is part of a larger plan to make the city more energy efficient. When items like light bulbs need to be replaced, city employees now look for greener products.

Many of the fixtures in the Valley Junction lots date to the mid-1980s, and are ready for an update, she said. Although the initial cost of the lights will be covered by grant money, the more efficient LED lamps would have paid for themselves in less than eight years - a savings the city will now realize immediately, Schemmel noted.

"We're not just doing it to be green," she said. "We're doing it to be smart."

Seattle City Council Approves Parking Near Light Rail Stops
Scott Gutierrez / The Seattle Post Intelligencer
March 23, 2011

All-day paid parking will be allowed near Sound Transit light rail stations under legislation approved this week by the Seattle City Council.

The ordinance allows businesses and property owners to temporarily provide up to 40 paid spaces for park-and-ride customers near light rail stations, as long as slots remain available for business customers. A permit would be valid for three years.

The move temporarily changes city zoning regulations, which prohibited "primary use" parking near train stations to encourage mixed-use development. City officials would rather see a mix of housing and business near transit, so people can walk to the train and leave their cars at home.

But many projects stalled during the recession, leaving empty lots. Responding to complaints, Mayor Mike McGinn suspended enforcement of the city's policy after taking office, trying to encourage ridership on the fledgling Link light rail and help property owners during the downturn.

Properties around light rail stations in southeast Seattle would be affected.

"You really don't want everyone to jump into their car and drive to the station. It's not great for the neighborhood and it's not great for the business district because you clog up those streets with people who are just really driving back and forth," said Councilmember Sally Clark,, the Built Environment Committee chair and sponsor of the legislation.

"What you'd like to see is more housing so people don't have to jump into their cars," she said. "But ... you're putting light rail into neighborhoods that haven't seen private investment for a long time. Just because the train is there doesn't mean the day after, you have developers clamoring at the permit counter."

Razing old buildings to convert property into a parking lot would be prohibited, she said.

The change was one of two approved Monday by the City Council to breathe life into empty lots where new construction stalled during the recession. The second piece creates the Vacant and Unused Lot Pilot Program, under which three-year permits will be issued to owners to allow parking. But permits come with a condition: Owners must incorporate an "active use" that will draw pedestrian activity, such as a retail kiosk; a mobile food vendor or cart; art displays or installations; outdoor entertainment; or nurseries.

Up to 20 applicants will be accepted to the program and can apply for an extension after three years. The Department of Planning and Development will evaluate the program's effectiveness after two years.

Empty lots can turn into magnets for crime, garbage and graffiti. City officials hope that by requiring landowners to pair with "creative uses," they can enliven neighborhoods and prevent blight. (For more about the city's idle construction sites, read this prior story on

Both ordinances require lots to be furnished with a crushed rock surface and sufficient lighting.

East Tennessee State University To Build Parking Garage
Chris McIntosh / TriCities News
March 23, 2011

Study Finds Parking Adequate, Enforcement Needed
Davidson News
March 23, 2011

Consultants unveiled a preliminary report on downtown parking and traffic Tuesday night, which shows in part that Davidson has a surplus of parking spaces right now, though new signs are needed to help visitors find them. The report also says the town will need more parking in the future, and should continue planning for more spaces, including a long-proposed downtown parking deck.

The report, by Rich & Associates Consultants Inc., of Southfield, Mich., also offers a variety of other recommendations, including more consistent and stringent enforcement of existing parking rules, possibly including stiffer fines.

Rich's consultants were in Davidson last fall to interview residents and survey parking and traffic. They estimated that Davidson has about 431 more spaces than it currently needs. As vacant retail and office space downtown fills and new developments arrive, that "would likely make finding parking in the downtown difficult," they said in a summary. In five years, the surplus could decline to 164 spaces, while a 10-year projection shows it could dwindle to just 19 spaces.

Town commissioners on Tuesday heard from Rick Rich and Annaka Norris, of Rich & Associates, as well as traffic engineer Jeff Hochanadel, of SEPI, who assisted in the studies.

Rich & Associates visited Davidson last October, assessing parking on a Thursday and a Saturday (during Davidson College Family Weekend). They found that at peak parking hours downtown on Thursday between noon and 2 p.m., 56 percent of the available spaces were occupied. Long-term parking areas along Jackson Street, behind Town Hall and the post office, were 90 percent occupied, indicating that many downtown employees found all-day parking in those spots.

Saturday's peak came around 11:30 a.m., when 72 percent of the spots were taken. Several on-street parking areas were at or near 100 percent at peak, the report said.

"For the most part, vehicles were turning over pretty well," said Ms. Norris. "About 11 percent of the vehicles we saw that day stayed longer than 2 hours."

Mr. Rich said 5 to 7 percent is optimum.

One issue with parking downtown is with local employees taking up parking spots that could be used by visitors and shoppers. Ms. Norris said education could help alleviate the problem. "Education is a key component to a parking system. We need to educate people where to park," she said. That includes letting employees know where they can part all day and making it easier - through signs and fliers - for visitors to find parking.


Commissioner Brian Jenest asked the consultants if they would recommend parking meters downtown.

Ms. Norris said they had studied the idea, but "at this time, we're not recommending it. As the town continues to grow, and parking becomes more difficult, we may need to look at it."

She said if the town follows the consultants' other recommendations, including stepped up enforcement and fines, that should ensure turnover in parking spots and help alleviate problems. Among the recommendations is that Davidson maintain adequate parking enforcement staffing to cover about 600-800 parking spaces per day. The consultants also recommend purchase of handheld ticket writing devices, which cost $5,000 each.

The report also suggests a new schedule of graded parking fines. A first ticket per car would carry no penalty. A second would be $35, reduced to $15 if paid the same day. Cost of subsequent tickets would rise.

Commissioner Jenest suggested the town should look at metered parking now, but his colleague, Commissioner Laurie Venzon, said she doesn't like the idea. "People will go somewhere else," she said.

Another question on commissioner's and businesspeople's minds has been whether the town should build a parking deck. Town officials last year unveiled a proposal for a structure on the site of two existing surface lots near Town Hall, off Jackson Street.

Ms. Norris said the consultants don't think there's a current need for a parking deck. But, the consultants said in their report that "if another development such as Mooney's Corner is planned, the town should seriously consider a parking structure. Additionally, if the Commuter Rail station occurs in the downtown as projected, this will trigger the need for a parking structure."

Mooney's Corner is a 3 1/2-story mixed use building planned on South Main Street, next to Town Hall. That project is going through final approvals and could include a restaurant and offices. Officials say construction could begin later this year.


Rich & Associates presented its findings in a 149-page report that includes projections for future changes. That includes everything from signage to lighting to parking enforcement. (Download a copy of the preliminary report on the town website (PDF).)

Commuter parking also was addressed. Rich & Associates calculates there is a current demand in Davidson for just 34 commuter parking spaces - for riders on CATS' 77x commuter bus. More - up to 200 - would be needed if the propose Red Line North Commuter Rail project comes to town.

Another proposal from the consultants is to create residential parking permit program. The report says South Street, near CVS and Flatiron Kitchen + Taphouse, is the only area currently suffering from all-day employee parking in a neighborhood. That could be controlled through a residential parking permit system, the consultants said. That program could be expanded as problems appear in other areas.


The town's parking study group also will hear from the consultants at a meeting Wednesday, March 23, at noon, at Town Hall.

The parking study cost $28,500. Of that, $20,000 was a grant from the Mecklenburg Union Metropolitan Planning Organization (MUMPO), and $8,500 came from town funds.

Hoboken Announces Launch of New Online Parking Update Service
Vishal Persaud / The Jersey Journal
March 23, 2011

Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer's office announced today the launch of new software that would allow residents to check online or receive text updates about parking restrictions in their neighborhood.

Residents can either check online or receive text updates about if they're parked in a temporary no parking area.

"We're zeroing in on a solution to one of the most frustrating aspects of parking in Hoboken," Mayor Dawn Zimmer said in a release from her office."By posting active and upcoming Temporary No Parking signs online in real-time, we're moving towards ending the days of returning to your car only to discover it's been towed."

The 'temporary no parking' map is available online on the Hoboken city website. The map works best on Firefox or Safari web browsers.

Hoboken residents can also text 'parking,' followed by their address to receive updates about parking restrictions in their area.

The map is a beta version of the software and residents can report bugs by emailing

Change On The Way For SD Parking Meters
Katie Orr / KPBS Radio
March 23, 2011
Listen to the Audio

Various studies over the years have shown parking meters in San Diego aren't being used efficiently. But there's an effort under way to change that.

Parking-management groups around the city are recommending how meters should be used in their neighborhoods. Bill Keller is with the downtown group.

"This whole process we've been going through is not about trying to raise rates," he said. "In fact it's about trying to find the right balance between the rates, duration of use and the uses in each neighborhood."

Keller said, for instance, meters located farther from popular downtown areas might cost less per hour and allow longer parking. But the opposite would be true for meters closer to the action.

Alex Roth is with the mayor's office, which will consider and implement the recommendations. He said letting neighborhood groups decide how meters should be used makes sense.

"It essentially gives each community the flexibility to tailor the parking meters to the needs of their community," Roth said. "Whether that means lowering parking-meter rates in certain business districts, or whether it means raising them in other business districts so you can free up parking."

Roth said what works for meters in one neighborhood might not work in another. A 2004 pilot project in downtown San Diego found allowing flexible times and rates doubled the utilization of street meters and increased parking revenues.

Newport to Privatize Parking Meters and Enforcement
Jon Cassidy / The Orange County Register
March 23, 2011

The City Council agreed to privatize parking meter operations and enforcement Tuesday night.

By unanimous vote, the council awarded a seven-year contract to Central Parking System, which will install 2,600 parking meters that accept credit cards and pay-by-phone. The contract guarantees the city the same $3 million a year it makes now from parking meters (after $500,000 in expenses).

Central Parking gets the next $7.7 million over the life of the deal, and the city gets most of the revenue above that. The worst case, according to city staff, is that revenues stay flat and the city makes the same amount it does now.

The best case is that revenues go up by $1.7 million, generating another $887,000 for the city, according to staff.

Mayor Michael Henn applauded the deal, in particular the new meters, which would become the city's property.

"We'll get the benefit of our bargain without having to pay," he said.

"What's the benefit," Councilman Ed Selich asked him.

Among other things, the new meters would become the city's property, Henn said.

Those meters are valued at $2.5 million, according to the report.

Under the terms of the contract, Central Parking would be in charge of writing tickets for parking meter violations, but 100 percent of those revenues would go to the city to prevent a conflict of interest.

There are incentives built into the contract. After the first $4.1 million (the city's $3 million and Central Parking's $1.1 million), the city gets 88.5 cents of every dollar. By year five of the deal, that number declines to 78.5.

The council also considered a ban on leaf blowers Tuesday, but didn't reach a final decision.

A wide ban on almost all blowers was voted down. A narrower ban just covering gas-powered blowers might have gathered the necessary four votes, but the matter was sent back to city attorneys to clarify some language.

Downtown Knoxville Parking Garage to Expand
March 22, 2011

New NYC Finance Department Service Lets You Fight Parking Violations Online, Instead of In Person
Lisa Eadicicco and Adam Lisberg / The NY Daily News
March 22, 2011

Now you can fight a parking ticket from your laptop

A new function on the city website lets you dispute parking violations - and health and sanitation tickets - by submitting pictures and paperwork online in your defense.</P><P>"It means that you won't

The new feature on lets you upload digital photos and documents as supporting evidence for fighting tickets.

Administrative law judges can ask questions about your case and issue decisions by email.

The program sounded good to New Yorkers disputing their tickets at the Finance Department's downtown office, who said haggling in person was a waste of their time.

"I never beat a ticket in my life. I guess it's better to do it online since they don't see it in my face anyway," said James Sligh, 48, of Spanish Harlem.

David DeJesus, 34, of the lower East Side, said: "The judges have a lot of attitude. Some of them don't even want to look at your photos. If you put them online there's no way of denying it."

The Finance Department previously allowed people to fight tickets by mail or by typing a defense on its website, but had no way to accept pictures or other paperwork online.

Brandon Boyd of Harlem wasn't so sure. "I don't know if I would trust it," he said. "Some of the tickets today are ridiculous. At least with the judge you're face to face."

New Yorkers fight about 1.2 million of the 10 million parking tickets written each year in the city and 48% of challenged tickets get dismissed, Finance Commissioner David Frankel said.

He wouldn't venture a guess whether more people will fight their tickets now that it's easier - but said there's no difference in how people are treated whether they fight their tickets in person or by mail.

At a City Council hearing later, Frankel said Finance was considering whether to do away with a program that offers New Yorkers a reduced fine for parking tickets in exchange for dropping their challenges and paying up.

Yet he defended a similar settlement program that gives a break to companies with fleets of large vehicles in exchange for not fighting every ticket.

"If we didn't do that, New York City would not function," Frankel said. "When the FedEx man wants to make a delivery, if he's going to get a ticket every single time he does that, that service would simply cease to function in this city."

That angered Brooklyn Councilmen Domenic Recchia and David Greenfield, who said cash-strapped New Yorkers need a break more than big companies.

"Why is it equitable for a corporation to get a break but not for an individual to get a break?" asked Greenfield. "This is just another example of the city enacting a policy that slams the little guy."

Sioux Falls Airport Parking to Get Fix
Sarah Reinecke / The Argus Leader
March 22, 2011

The first phase of a $3.9 million parking lot improvement project at the Sioux Falls Regional Airport will begin at the end of next month.

Officials say the biggest challenge during construction will be keeping at least 1,000 of the 1,780 parking stalls open for the public's use. There also will be 100 stalls available for overflow parking in the rental car storage lot.

"There's no other parking lot that I can think of that's similar to this, in that you have to maintain parking all the time. It doesn't close at night, people don't go away," said Mark Wiederrich, vice president for Goldsmith Heck Engineers. "The contractor will be constantly dealing with the public and getting cars moved out as we move into the next phase."

Summertime is the slowest time of year for parking, so Wiederrich said that should help the situation. The project is expected to be complete at the end of October.

The project will open for bids Monday, and the contract will be awarded April 5.

Wiederrich said the upgrades to the lot, which has been in place for about 30 years, will improve its function and make things easier for pedestrians and drivers. The upgrades will not add any new parking stalls, but on Monday, airport authority board members requested that a plan be developed to create semi-permanent overflow parking for high-use times.

A long-term parking plan also includes a $12 million four-story parking ramp that could be built in the next five to eight years.

Airport executive director Dan Letellier said the parking lot has been completely full on several days this month, but he plans to look into other options before building such a pricey parking facility.

Boardings were up 17.5 percent in February and 17 percent year to date, Letellier said. The airport is close to being on par with 2007, a record year, and Letellier expects to see more traffic as Frontier begins service in July.

The airport board Monday approved a $750,000 project for a terminal canopy, parking lot exit canopy and pedestrian canopy.

The canopies will have granite laminate columns, and the exit canopy will have Daktronics screens in front of each lane.

The board also approved $285,375 for the purchase of new parking lot revenue equipment and parking lot exit booths. The new equipment will include a paperless option, allowing users to swipe a credit card upon arrival and departure.

"We are the entry point in the region for people coming and going, and we want to put in a good look, so we're trying to do it as cost-effective as possible," said Mike Breidenbach, airport authority vice chairman.

The main entrance plaza will move to the north of the drop-off zone along Jaycee Lane to avoid congestion in front of the terminal building.

There will be two entrances each for short-term and long-term parking at that site.

The project also will expand the drop-off zone by adding a median in the road to create a double-curb frontage to drop off passengers. Pedestrian canopies will be located in the median.

"The look is going to be greatly improved; we're going to do a lot of landscaping with this. It's going to be a lush, well-manicured landscape look that's not out there right now," Wiederrich said.

Each parking aisle will point toward the terminal building, making it easier for pedestrians to navigate, especially in the winter.

The exit booths also will be replaced and moved north of where they are now with the exit lane weaving out onto Jaycee Lane next to the airport entrance instead of directly onto Minnesota Avenue.

Wiederrich said a traffic light will be added there, making it easier for people to turn north onto Minnesota Avenue.

Chapel Hill to See Sustainable Parking Meters
Tyson Leonhardt / The Daily Tar Heel
March 22, 2011

Drivers might not have to search under floor mats to feed the meter after the town installs new parking pay stations.

By summer, 40 multi-space stations, which will allow motorists to pay via credit card, will replace about 240 single-space meters that line the downtown streets.

Two different models of the pay stations were installed on East Franklin Street in August. The town decided on a model after seeking public feedback.

The pay stations, which can collect payments from up to 10 spaces, will eliminate paper receipts and run on solar energy.

"There is a battery that is charged with the use of solar power built into the top of every pay station, and the notion is we don't have to replace the batteries nearly as soon," Town Parking Superintendent Brenda Jones said.

These green cell batteries only charge when there is sufficient daylight but are able to maintain their charge long after sunset, Chapel Hill Sustainability Officer Jordan Richardson said.

"This is just another example of how there are always opportunities to improve the sustainability of how we do business."

The town is nearing the end of its discussion with Duncan Solutions, supplier and installer of the stations, and expects the new machines to be installed within about a month. The town appropriated $320,000 from the parking fund for the replacements.

Town Business Management Director Ken Pennoyer said installation shouldn't affect capacity.

"We'll probably put the new ones in while the old ones are still there and have signs directing people to use the old meters until we take them out. Basically there will be an overlap period," he said.

Pennoyer said rates at the new meters will remain the same because the Chapel Hill Town Council chose not to adopt a 25-cent fee hike recommended by the parking department earlier this year.

"We're going to recommend it again when the council looks at the budget in total in a couple of months," he said.

Jones said the old meters will likely be auctioned off through GovDeals, a website that allows government agencies to sell surplus and confiscated items.

Although the new meters will initially be installed for downtown parking, Jones said the possibility of incorporating other public lots is being explored.

"We've had discussions, and anything is possible," she said. "There are some other areas we have identified where they could be useful, but they would have to be slowly integrated."

Business's Gripe: Parking Meters Drive Away Customers
Joe Schoenmann / Las Vegas Sun
March 20, 2011

Many downtown Las Vegas businesses see parking meters as the scourge of the city.

They wonder why the city would erect parking meters and ticket violators when most of the people getting the tickets are customers of downtown businesses. And this in a city where you can park at any casino, and almost anywhere else, for free?

It isn't too strong to say the meters are despised, especially by the smattering of taverns in Fremont East, where the city has improved streets, sidewalks and neon signs to boost business opportunities.

It's the kind of issue that could help or hurt mayoral candidates, two of whom happen to be Clark County commissioners, Larry Brown and Chris Giunchigliani.

Do the meters bring in lots of money for the city? Maybe that cash cow is just too beefy to let go.

The Sun requested parking meter revenue and expenses. For fiscal 2010 (ending June 30), the city collected parking meter fees of $1.78 million and parking fines and penalties of $4.24 million, for a total of about $6 million.

Another $870,000 came in from interest income, miscellaneous fees and parking lot fees and rentals.

Total revenue: about $6.87 million.

What were expenses related to parking?

The city owns three parking garages on Stewart Avenue, Main Street and beneath Neonopolis. It pays $3.68 million annually to service the debt for those garages. Then there are salaries and benefits for staff, maintenance and equipment costs and utility fees, all of which cost $4.46 million a year. The city employs 19 parking enforcement staff and four people who work in financial services/parking collections. Total costs: about $8 million.

So the city loses money on parking?

It appears so.

And how do the candidates feel about them?

Giunchigliani said of parking meters: "Get rid of them."

What does Brown say?

First, as a former Las Vegas councilman, he said he remembers some downtown businesses requested parking meters to keep people from parking in front of their businesses all day.

Many were in the blocks full of law offices north of Charleston Boulevard and east of Las Vegas Boulevard, he said.

Those businesses are blocks, however, from Fremont East outlets, which almost unanimously hate the meters because of the stories of parking tickets received by their customers. So rather than lumping all downtown businesses together, Brown wants to see who wants them and who doesn't, then make decisions. At a minimum, he wants the meters in Fremont East to be turned off at 5 p.m. instead of 6 p.m.

What about parking garages?

Brown wants the city to provide "free days" more often, especially on City Council meeting days, when people are forced to use the city's garages.

How do other candidates feel about the meters?

George Harris, owner of Mundo restaurant in the World Market Center, despises the meters. He tells the story of a friend who had his vehicle "booted" by city parking enforcement while in the private lot of a downtown restaurant. His plan for parking meters is to get rid of them, with some style. He'll hacksaw at least a few of the meters himself, then hold a contest and let the highest bidder do their worst on the meters. As for the garages, he says it's simple: Sell them.

The numbers showing that parking enforcement is a money loser, he added, only bolster his argument that the city should get out of the parking enforcement business.

Those meters have been in place during the reign of Oscar Goodman. So what does Oscar's wife, candidate Carolyn Goodman, think about them?

A spokesman for her said she wants to meet with business leaders and build a consensus on what to do about meters.

As for the parking garages, she will also look for input from the private sector to enable "easier and more convenient" parking downtown.


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