Parking in the News - August 3, 2010

Articles

Visitors Complain About Cape May's Electronic Parking Meters

Miami Looks at City's Parking Revenue to Fund Reserves, Make Bond Payments

Davenport Says it Might Park Free Downtown Meters Due to Parking Ramp Debt

Community Medical Center's Parking Garage Might Go up for Tax Sale

Columbus' New Solar-Powered Parking Meters Accept Credit Cards

Nearly all York City Parking Meters Worked, Officials Say

Newburyport, Mass. May Net $500K for Garage

In Jakarta, Parking Operators Must Provide Insurance

Saint John Parking the Profits

Ilitch Official Disputes Detroit City Property Tax Bill

Vail to Review Winter Parking Plan

Bloomfield Parking Authority to Appeal Eminent Domain Ruling

Miami Commission Proposes Taking Over Parking Authority

Chicago Parking Meter Co. to Make $73M This Year

Whitaker Street Parking Garage Lawsuit Headed to Trial

Sacked Austrailian Parking Committee Members Reinstated

Parking Bargain Lures Efficient Vehicles in Boston

Judge Parks Easton, Pa., Woman in Jail Over $27,000 in Parking Fines

TriMet Opens First Bike And Ride Facility in Portland, Ore.

Parking Program to Assist Graduate Students at Michigan State

SFMTA Launches Demand-Based Parking Pilot Program

Concerned Residents Speak Out Against Parking Plan

Changes May Come for Downtown Austin Parking

Reaction to Lynchburg Parking Meters From Business Owners Mixed

Parking Remains an Issue for Oswego

Council Moves to Aase Atlanta Parking Problems with New Zones

Dialing for Parking Launched on the MBTA

 

 

Visitors Complain About Cape May's Electronic Parking Meters
Jack Fichter / Cape May County Herald
August 2, 2010

The Herald has received calls from visitors to this city that have received parking tickets due to malfunctioning parking meters.  The city installed central station meters that handle a number of parking spaces and accept payment from credit and debit cards. A caller told the Herald she received only 15 minutes of parking time despite a charge for more time being placed on her credit card.

City Manager Bruce MacLeod told the Herald if someone believes they received a ticket inappropriately, they can question the ticket in municipal court and ask for verification of the time they paid for in the parking meter versus the time on their ticket.  MacLeod said the meters are capable of providing a detailed analysis for each parking space.   "We can research that and we have done that in the past at the municipal court's request when someone has questioned the ticket," he said.

One driver who received a ticket complained they would not be in Cape May the following Wednesday to attend municipal court to protest the parking ticket. MacLeod said someone who is leaving town, could submit a letter with their ticket and request an investigation of the ticket as compared to the record in the meter.

He said meters do experience mechanical or electronic problems from time to time.  MacLeod said the city has found on many occasions, the meters were not either coin fed properly or that the customer maybe didn't understand which parking space they were in because drivers have to enter their parking space number in the central station meter.  Drivers sometimes purchase time for the wrong parking space by not entering the correct number of the space where they are parked, he said.  A driver who is experiencing a problem with a meter can call the police department. The Department of Public Works maintains the meters, said MacLeod.

If a meter will not operate at all and a driver has not purchased a lot of time in the meter, he advised moving to another parking space. MacLeod said he realized it may be difficult to find another parking space in Cape May.  He said a driver should not continue to park at a meter if it is inoperable because that is not justification to avoid a ticket.

MacLeod said there is sometimes interference trying to complete credit card transactions since the electronic meters are Internet based. The central station meters operate in part of battery power. The batteries have to be changed on occasion, he said. 

Miami Looks at City's Parking Revenue to Fund Reserves, Make Bond Payments
Simone Baribeau / Bloomberg News
August 2, 2010

Miami lawmakers, facing a $110 million budget gap, are looking at the city's parking system for revenue to replenish reserves and make bond payments.  Commissioners of Florida's second-largest city unanimously authorized a Nov. 2 voter referendum to give the administration direct control of the Miami Parking Authority, a semi-autonomous department run by its own board. Taking over would allow the city to lease or sell parking assets without the board's approval. It may also raise about $100 million by issuing bonds backed by parking revenue or by entering a public-private partnership, City Manager Carlos Migoya said.

Miami isn't alone at looking to leverage parking assets as U.S. municipalities face budget shortfalls of as much as $83 billion through 2012, the National League of Cities said. Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, have considered parking leases. They would follow Chicago, which got $1.2 billion of upfront payments from private investors in 2008 when it leased its parking system for 75 years.

"When everything was going great, we wouldn't even look at the parking authority because we were happy and satisfied with whatever money they gave us," Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, who was elected in November, said in an interview. "It's time now to look at every option."

The Miami Parking Authority contributed $2 million to the city in 2009 and expects to transfer around $7 million in 2010 after it trimmed expenses and increased parking fees, said Arthur Noriega, its chief executive officer. Revenue grew 3.4 percent to $13.4 million in the first seven months of fiscal 2010, according to the authority's monthly financial report.

Partnership Offers

The city might sell additional bonds backed by parking income, Regalado said. The city also has had "many offers" to enter into public-private partnerships, he said, in which an outside operator would lend the city money using parking assets as collateral.   "We just feel that we needed to have all the options available so we can decide what to do, if anything, with the parking assets," Regalado, 63, said of the city commission's action on July 29.

Miami, whose population of about 433,000 is second in the state to Jacksonville, faces a $96.5 million operating deficit in fiscal 2011, which begins Sept. 30, and another $14 million shortfall from deferred capital expenditures, Migoya said at a commission meeting July 22. It plans to close the gap by cutting salaries greater than $40,000 by 5 percent to 12 percent, reducing pension and health benefits and raising city fees.

Use of Proceeds

Regalado said no money from parking assets taken over by the city would be used for operating expenses. Instead, he said, proceeds would fund capital improvements, bond payments and be used to replenish budget reserves.   Reserves are projected to fall to less than $20 million by the end of the fiscal year, after the city fills its budget gap, from $120 million in 2001, Regalado said. The city needs $90 million of reserves to comply with an ordinance adopted after a 1996 fiscal crisis left the state overseeing its finances.

The parking authority manages more than 30,000 spaces and 11 garages over the city's 34.3 square miles (55 kilometers). The department appoints its own board, draws up its budget and sets parking rates, all of which must be confirmed by the city.

The parking board approves revenue-bonds sales, which are then issued by the City of Miami, Noriega said. If the authority were to be taken over, any outstanding debt would remain backed by parking revenue, said Larry Spring, Miami's chief financial officer.

Attractive Autonomy

The authority's current autonomy makes bonds backed by its revenue more attractive to investors, said Noriega.   "We're a little less politicized than a city department and we're able to be more efficient," he said in an interview.   Moody's rates an October sale of Miami parking revenue bonds A2, its sixth-highest grade. The rating was recalibrated this year from A3 in a Moody's review of its grading scales.

There are about $65 million of outstanding Miami parking- revenue bonds, Noriega said. A 5 percent 30-year security sold in October at 97.4 to yield 5.2 percent traded as high as 102 last week to yield 4.9 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The City of Miami's unlimited general-obligation bond rating was cut one level on July 1 by Moody's to A1. The evaluator cited its operating deficit and pension costs, which will consume about one-fifth of the $514 million fiscal 2010 general-fund budget. Standard & Poor's, which doesn't rate the parking bonds, also cut the city's rating on June 16 by two levels to A-, its fourth-lowest investment grade.

Davenport Says it Might Park Free Downtown Meters Due to Parking Ramp Debt
The Associated Press
August 2, 2010

Davenport might soon start charging people to park downtown again.  The city stopped charging drivers to park downtown eight months ago, and the number of cars visiting the city center jumped eight percent in that time.

Officials say the free passes might have to stop, though, because of an ongoing debt of over $10 million from parking ramps built several years ago. The city is now debating whether to go back to some paid parking spots or use tax dollars to pay off the debt.

Mayor Bill Gluba prefers using taxes, but several aldermen say they don't want to use tax dollars instead of parking revenue to retire the debt.  Gluba says a final decision won't come until next spring at the earliest.

Community Medical Center's Parking Garage Might Go up for Tax Sale
Erin L. Nissley and Josh Mrozinski / Scranton Times-Tribune
August 2, 2010

A parking garage owned by Community Medical Center may be listed in an upcoming tax sale if there is no resolution to a dispute about whether the property should be tax exempt, a county official said.

According to tax records, nearly $503,000 is owed in delinquent county and school district taxes on the 400-plus-space parking garage built in 2003 for CMC employees. There was no information available Friday about delinquent taxes owed to the city.

County records list the property owner as Medical Dimensions Inc., a nonprofit subsidiary of the hospital, which owns the land. CMC Chief Executive Officer Bob Steigmeyer said the garage, at Colfax Avenue and Linden Street, is owned by the hospital and should be tax exempt.

"It is essential to the tax-exempt purpose of the hospital as it is the staff parking garage," he wrote in an e-mail. "This garage was constructed using tax-exempt bond proceeds, clearly meeting the tax-exempt purpose of CMC."

CMC pays about $131,000 in taxes each year on a public parking garage at Colfax Avenue and Mulberry Street, according to tax assessment records. CMC reported $1.5 million in revenue and $824,883 in expenses to the IRS on a 990 form for 2007, a document IRS requires nonprofits to file.

The city's other two hospitals, Mercy and Moses Taylor, pay taxes on parking garages and other properties.

"We do pay real estate taxes on properties around the hospital," said Moses Taylor spokeswoman Meaghan Comerford. She said $287,966 was recently paid in taxes on those properties, which include parking lots and vacant land. Moses Taylor reported $137.3 million in revenue and $135.3 million in expenses for 2007, as well as $549,049 in income unrelated to the organization's tax-exempt purpose.

Gladys G. Bernet, Mercy Hospital spokeswoman, said the hospital pays more than $500,000 in annual taxes, but declined to release the exact amount. Mercy reported $152.4 million in revenue - including $1.06 million for net patient service in unrelated income - for 2008. It also reported $148.7 million in expenses.

The city's three hospitals and the Scranton Housing Authority once made payments in lieu of taxes. The voluntary contributions ended, however, after the Scranton School District mounted a failed 2002 attempt to challenge the hospitals' tax-exempt status in court.

Ron Koldjeski, the county's Tax Claim Bureau deputy director, said the Linden Street garage was removed from tax sale schedules every year since 2006. Attorney John T. Clary Jr., who represents Medical Dimensions in the matter, told Mr. Koldjeski in September that the matter would be worked out soon and asked if the property could be removed again from a tax sale listing.

"I haven't heard from him since then," Mr. Koldjeski said. "They need to either pay it or it's going up for sale."

Mr. Clary did not return a phone call seeking comment this week. But in a letter to Mr. Koldjeski dated Sept. 16, Mr. Clary pointed out that the matter was still in litigation.

In 2003, the county's Board of Assessment rejected Medical Dimension's claim that the garage should be tax exempt. Medical Dimensions appealed at that decision and the issue is still in litigation, according to court paperwork.

The employee garage has been closed since June. The hospital is suing the companies that designed and built it, claiming that moisture seeping through the concrete slabs is damaging cars parked in the garage.

The litigation is happening as the city's three hospitals continue to struggle financially.

In May, a report released by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council showed that the hospitals' collective operating margin for fiscal 2009 was the lowest in the state, despite gains from Moses Taylor and Mercy over the last year.

The financial struggles have led to staffing cuts. Moses Taylor laid off 61 full-time employees and planned to cut back on its use of 50 per diem workers. CMC laid off 10 employees and reassigned 14 more in April 2009. In May 2009, Mercy cut 13 positions.

Columbus' New Solar-Powered Parking Meters Accept Credit Cards
Garth Bishop / Columbus Local News
August 1, 2010

Visitors to high-traffic zones in Columbus could see shiny new parking meters along streets as early as fall.  At its July 19 meeting, Columbus City Council gave its first reading to an ordinance that will allow the Department of Public Service to buy new parking meter heads from IPS Group Inc. for about $750,000.

When council approves the measure, it will be the first purchase in a series that eventually will result in the replacement of all the city's 4,000-plus meter heads and the addition of more than 400 meters.

"We're going to be installing ... about 1,000 meter heads per year until we refit the entire fleet of meters," said city Assistant Director of Public Service Rick Tilton. Council's approval could come as early as its Monday, July 26 meeting.  "If council does support this, we're looking at sometime in September for delivery and installing 1,000 meter heads by the end of the year," Tilton said. The Short North and Gay Street might be first on the city's list for replacement, he said.

The new meters -- which were tested last summer on Gay Street in downtown Columbus -- will accept credit cards and debit cards in addition to the coins currently accepted at all city meters. They also are solar-powered.

"They're much easier to use -- you don't have to carry around a pocketful of change," said Tilton.

Meanwhile, the city is in the midst of changing the rates and enforcement hours of its existing meters in accordance with the recommendations laid out in May by the Parking Meter Advisory Committee. That work began June 15 and is on pace to be finished by Labor Day, Tilton said.

"They have about 750 meters done of the more than 4,200," he said.

Among the changes being carried out by the city are:
* The extension until 10 p.m. of the enforcement hours on almost 1,900 meters;
* The alteration of maximum meter time at a large number of meters throughout the city;
* The addition of 432 new meters to the current supply; and
* The adjustment of meter rates to make them more standard, with 12-hour meters charging 40 cents per hour, 30-minute meters charging 50 cents per half hour and the rest charging 75 cents per hour.

The advisory committee included business owners, city officials, Franklin County officials, community leaders and business and area commission members. It was formed to find an acceptable way to raise parking meter revenue.

Revenue needs to increase, officials have said, to pay for the replacement of the city's aging meter fleet and to raise $1.4 million as a backup to pay off debt on the Hilton Columbus Downtown convention hotel in case the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority and the Franklin County government cannot.

It was formed after Public Service Director Mark Kelsey's November decision to effect an across-the-board 50 percent meter rate increase was met with community backlash and was rescinded.

Nearly all York City Parking Meters Worked, Officials Say
Carl Lindquist / The York Dispatch
July 31, 2010

An inspection of the parking meters in downtown York found nearly all were measuring time accurately, a city official said. Business Administrator Michael O'Rourke said city officials late last week finished certifying each of the approximately 1,130 meters along downtown streets. He said all but a few were working properly.

The remainder each measured time correctly within 9 seconds as required, he said.  The city must certify the meters under a 1996 state law. O'Rourke said he first became aware of the requirement in 2002, but was told the function was a responsibility of the county's Bureau of Weights and Measures.

However, the county department never had anyone certified to inspect the meters, and the inspection wasn't performed. The city recently learned of the problem and had several employees certified.

The problem: Failure to certify the meters allowed motorists in some areas of the state to successfully appeal parking tickets.

"I think the most important thing is that it was done, it was done fast, it was done right," O'Rourke said. "What we discovered were the meters were 99-point-something good. People weren't being stiffed out of the time."

The city was able to get the meters certified weeks ahead of its own Aug. 13 goal, he said.

Process: Inspectors removed each meter from its pole, set the time to two hours and measured for accuracy, O'Rourke said. A few mechanical meters were malfunctioning, he said, and a couple  of digital meters needed batteries.

The batteries were replaced, and the malfunctioning mechanical meters were taken out of service for repair or replacement, he said.  Although the problems with the meters were publicized by local media, O'Rourke said the city didn't experience an influx of complaints.

Only a few people appealed to Mayor Kim Bracey, he said. She decided to hear appeals in lieu of having people go to district judges.

Going forward, he said the city plans to re-certify one-third of the meters each year to prevent city officials from having to do them all in one year.

Inspections elsewhere in York County:

-- Parking meter inspections in Red Lion and Dallastown are now complete, and inspection of West York's 200 parking meters is under way. In addition, Hanover is in the process of setting a future date with York County's Bureau of Weights and Measures to complete meter inspections.

-- Red Lion's 150 meters were certified two weeks ago, said borough manager Dianne Price.

-- Dallastown's 36 meters were certified last week, according to borough manager Connie Stokes.

-- West York council President Brian Wilson said he expects meters to be certified by the end of the week.

-- According to borough manager Bruce Rebert, 250 of Hanover's 600 parking meters are digital. The digital meters, which were installed within the last two years and are manufacturer-certified for three years, Rebert said. As a result, the digital meters do not need to be inspected this year. The borough's remaining 350 mechanical meters, though, are in need of certification, and the borough is in discussion with York County's Bureau of Weights and Measures to have the meters inspected.

Newburyport, Mass. May Net $500K for Garage
Katie Farrell Lovett / Newburyport Daily News
July 31, 2010

The city is poised to receive a $500,000 boost from the federal government in its quest to build a downtown parking garage, Congressman John Tierney announced yesterday.

The U.S. House of Representatives included the money in funding for the city's intermodal parking facility in the fiscal year 2011 Department of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.

The House passed the bill Thursday night, and it now will go before the Senate. If passed, the city can then access the funds.  Mayor Donna Holaday, who met with the congressman and pushed for the parking garage funding during a visit to Washington, D.C., earlier this year, said yesterday she was pleased with the news.  "I'm very, very pleased that we do have this money." Holaday said.

The $500,000 will most likely be used for design costs or as matching funds if needed, the mayor added. Holaday said she has met with Tony Green of New England Development, owned by billionaire developer Stephen Karp, and Ann Lagasse of the local subsidiary Newburyport Development to discuss the project.

The meeting was "positive," Holaday said. Few details of Karp's plans for the waterfront have been revealed, though Lagasse has confirmed interest in building a hotel in the area.  In May, the City Council voted 7-3 to designate Titcomb Street as the site for a future parking facility in the city.

Owned and operated by the Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority, the intermodal parking facility would also offer terminals for MVRTA buses and spaces for vehicles. Preliminary designs show a multistory garage with several hundred parking spaces.

The mayor said city officials will continue to sit down and have discussions with the MVRTA and New England Development.  "We are beginning conversations on how to move forward," Holaday said.

In a statement, Tierney called the parking garage "critical" to the city's future.  "The proposed Newburyport parking facility is a critical aspect of the city's waterfront development plans and is expected to increase transportation options for local residents," he said. "I am pleased that this bill included $500,000 for this important project, and I will continue working with Mayor Holaday, who has shown terrific leadership, and other state and local officials to advance it. In the meantime, it is imperative for the Senate to act quickly on this legislation so that the funds can be provided to Newburyport."

In Jakarta, Parking Operators Must Provide Insurance
Irawaty Wardany / The Jakarta Post
July 31, 2010

City councilors have challenged the administration's plan to ask consumers to pay for parking insurance, saying parking lot operators should be responsible for any losses and damages inflicted to vehicles in their care.

"Since a Supreme Court ruling recently obliged a parking operator to compensate a consumer whose car was lost in a secured parking lot, the insurance fee should naturally be the parking operator's responsibility," the chairman of City Council Commission C overseeing the budget Ridho Kamaluddin told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

The Supreme Court recently ruled that parking operator PT Securindo Packatama Indonesia had to pay Rp 60 million (US$6,600) to Anny R. Gultom and Hontas Tambunan in compensation for their car, which was lost in a Central Jakarta shopping center.

In response to the ruling, Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo said the administration would revise the 2004 gubernatorial decree on parking, but warned that it would still likely wind up burdening consumers because operators would inevitably charge higher parking fees.

However, despite the speculation surrounding the parking insurance issue, the city administration had not yet submitted a proposal to revise the gubernatorial decree,
Ridho said.

"So I don't know the range of a potential parking fee increase yet," he said.

Ridho said taxes from off-street parking contributed Rp 19 billion ($2.1 million) a year to city coffers.

"Operators should at least share the insurance costs rather than pass them off on to their customers," deputy council speaker Triwisaksana said.

Triwisaksana also revealed that the City Council had just finished a revision of the 1999 parking bylaw last month, which stipulates that 20 percent of a vehicle parking ticket goes to the city administration.

The administration also receives full fees from on-street parking revenues managed by the administration's parking unit, Ridho said.

Separately, the Jakarta branch of the Indonesian Consumers' Foundation (YLKI) agreed with the idea of parking operators assuming insurance costs, member Tulus
Abadi said.

"Whatever the form, whether the parking operator cooperates with building managers, what is most important is that the consumers' vehicles are protected from any damages or loss," Tulus said.

That would be a win-win solution for all parties, considering many people in Indonesia did not have car insurance, he said.

Tulus added that apart from incorporating insurance, the administration should better manage
its own parking lots, especially those under their direct supervision, specifically citing city-owned market operator PD Pasar Jaya as an
example.

"Compared to the number of vehicles in this city, the administration's income from parking is really quite small, only around Rp 19 billion a year on average, due largely to the huge number of illegal parking operators," Tulus said.

This dilemma has often forced the city administration to subsidize parking operators, he said.

Saint John Parking the Profits
Reid Southwick / Telegraph-Journal
July 31, 2010

The Saint John Parking Commission might be able to continue amassing profits even as taxpayers subsidize a parking garage in the city centre, according to a complicated funding formula for the proposed project.

Should common council approve a new garage for Carleton Street, the parking commission would own, operate and finance the structure.

To cover construction and operating costs, the commission would have to put about $300,000 of its annual surplus revenues into the project. The commission typically generates surpluses as part of its regular business of offering parking services in the city.

If the commission posts surpluses that are higher than $300,000 a year, it is not obligated to invest those additional profits into the garage - it could hold onto the extra cash.

Over the past several years, the commission has amassed annual profits that were as high as $400,000, suggesting there could be money left over after the organization covers its costs for the new garage, if it's built.

Added to all this, the city is expected to give the parking commission $300,000 a year to offset costs for the garage, with the payments declining over time. Taxpayers would be on the hook for the annual payments, regardless of the commission's profits.

This means taxpayers would give money to the parking commission for the garage and the commission could end up walking away with profits at the end of a given year.

City manager Patrick Woods said in an email that local government officials would have to decide if they would let the commission pocket the extra cash.

"If at the end of the year the commission generates a surplus (actual results), then a decision will have to be made whether or not to let the commission use (keep) the available funds to support its parking program," Woods wrote.

Deputy Mayor Stephen Chase, who sits on the parking commission, said he doesn't expect a very big windfall - maybe an extra $100,000 or so a year - and it may return to city coffers. In fact, he said the commission's finances would be stretched thin to pay for the project.

So far, the organization has amassed about $4 million from its annual surpluses and it would dump all of that money into the new garage, he said.

"Peel Plaza is going to be a sponge that will sop up all the available financial resources of the parking commission," Chase said.

The deputy mayor said he's opposed to the parking garage and plans to vote against it once the matter comes before common council. He said he's not happy that taxpayers would have to spend $300,000 a year to subsidize a new parking structure.

The city, he said, should have struck a deal with the private sector to build a parking garage, a move he added would have likely lowered the bill for taxpayers.

A council majority, however, abandoned the idea of a public-private partnership for Peel Plaza, which also includes a new police station and public park, and opted for traditional tenders.

"Everything about this project is like taking a round peg and trying to smash it into a square hole," said Chase, who was also among three council members who voted against a $20.6-million police station. "It's costing valuable revenue that could otherwise be spent on curbside services and recreational needs."

Councillor Carl Killen, who sits on the parking commission with Chase and Coun. Chris Titus, has a very different view of the garage project. Killen supports it because he prefers a "tastefully designed garage" over surface parking lots.

The politician said he expects council would have some discretion over what the parking commission does with any surplus revenues.

"The parking commission is obviously an entity that exists attached to the city and as such whatever monies it does collect are monies that it would put toward its mandate, which would be its first priority," Killen said.

"After that, as with so many other things, council will have some say over what will happen to surpluses."

Ilitch Official Disputes Detroit City Property Tax Bill
Louis Aguilar / The Detroit News
July 31, 2010

Ilitch Holdings Inc. said Friday it has resolved a $178,419 Detroit property tax bill on a multilevel downtown parking garage near the Fox Theatre, but the Wayne County Treasurer's Office still has on its books that the tax is owed.

Wayne County has begun a year-long process that could lead to the foreclosure of the parking garage at 28 W. Montcalm, behind Detroit's Hockeytown Café owned by Ilitch Holdings.

"All taxes for 28 W. Montcalm have been paid and continue to be current," said Jennifer Haselhuhn, spokeswoman for Ilitch Holdings. "Due to a clerical error at the city, two tax bills were generated for the property for the 2008 tax period. The city has confirmed that the taxes remain current and has resolved the issue."

The issue was settled this week, she said.   But it's unclear whether county officials have caught up.  On March 31, the county Treasurer's Office filed a certificate of forfeiture of real property on the parking structure on West Montcalm Street that is across the street from the Fox Theatre, which also is owned by Ilitch Holdings.   The Wayne County Treasurer's Office did not return repeated calls Friday by The Detroit News.

Vail to Review Winter Parking Plan
Vail Daily
July 30, 2010

Recommendations for Vail's winter parking rates and policies will be reviewed by the Town Council at its Tuesday regular evening meeting. The parking discussion is listed fourth on the agenda for the meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. in the Vail Town Council Chambers, 75 S. Frontage Rd. Public comments are encouraged.

Public Works Director Greg Hall says the parking recommendations for the upcoming season reflect few changes from the prior year to allow for an assessment of the supply and demand for public parking once the remaining major redevelopment projects are completed. Openings of the Four Seasons Resort and the Ritz-Carlton Residences are anticipated during the 2010-11 winter season for a total of 13 major redeveloped properties in Vail since 2006.

While there will be fewer construction workers in Vail this winter, the new developments will add to the number of guest service jobs in Vail, according to Hall. Another change this season will be the loss of the 75-space parking area at the former Wendy's lot as a result of the West Vail fire station construction. 

Among the staff recommendations to be presented Tuesday is the continued use of designated spaces on the North Frontage Road for outlying employee parking pending approval by the Colorado Department of Transportation. The 140 spaces were used on an experimental basis last season as part of the town's ongoing effort to free up spaces in the parking garages for Vail's guests. Use of the South Frontage Road would continue for free overflow parking when the Vail Village and Lionshead structures fill. There were 21 overflow parking days during the 2009-10 season.

As in the past, the recommendation includes use of 70 free parking spaces on the North Frontage Road alongside the West Vail Mall.

Other recommendations include a change to increase utilization of the value lots, located on the top deck of the Vail Village parking structure and on the second level-south side of the Lionshead parking structure. As proposed, the lots would be open to all users with free 30 minute parking, a two-hour shopper rate or an all day-rate. In addition, value pass holders would have access to 160 of the spaces in Vail Village and 75 spaces in Lionshead. Parking tickets would once again be issued to violators, replacing the $65 automated rate which was implemented last season and drew numerous complaints. Another change from last season would be to include Eagle County residents and property owners in the eligibility qualifications for value passes.  

In reviewing parking pass rates, the Town Council will be asked to review the pricing structure of the Pink Pass, which has been used by employees of business license holders in Vail Village and Lionshead for parking at Ford Park and the soccer field lots. The price last season was $150, which is considerably less than the cost of an ECO bus pass.

Other aspects of the parking program are recommended to remain the same as last season:

• Green Pass, for employees of business license holders in Vail Village and LionsHead only, good for parking in the LionsHead structure Monday through Thursday and all outlying lots, $500.
• Blue Pass, for Vail property owners, residents and employees of business license holders in Vail Village and Lionshead, good for parking in the two structures with restrictions, $1,100.
• Silver Pass, limited to 50 each per structure and available one each to Vail Village and LionsHead business license holders on a first-come, first-served basis, with guaranteed parking availability in one structure, $1,800.
• Gold Pass, for guaranteed parking in the two structures, $3,250.

Discounted Value Cards for employees of business license holders in Vail Village and Lionshead as well as Vail residents and property owners are recommended at $12 Sunday through Thursday and a $20 charge Friday and Saturday and peak days. Eagle County residents and property owners would pay $15 during non-peak and $22 during peak according to the recommendation.

The daily rate for close-in structured parking in Vail Village and Lionshead would remain the same as last season under the proposal as follows:

• First 90 minutes free and free after 3 p.m.
• $10 for 1.5 to 2 hours.
• $15 for 2 to 3 hours.
• $20 for 3 to 4 hours.
• $25 for 4 to 24 hours.

In addition to the 70 parking spaces on the North Frontage Road in front of the West Vail Mall, plus 100 spaces west of the roundabout, other free parking areas are recommended as follows:

• Donovan Park, 120 spaces, when the pavilion is not in use
• East Vail Interchange trailhead, 15 spaces, available 7 days a week
• North Trail Trailhead, 6 spaces, available 7 days a week
• Red Sandstone Park 15 spaces, available 7 days a week

The remaining park and trailhead parking spaces in town would be designated as three-hour winter use only.

Bloomfield Parking Authority to Appeal Eminent Domain Ruling
Jeff Frankel / Bloomfield Life
July 30, 2010

The Bloomfield Parking Authority (BPA) plans to appeal a recent ruling that barred the takeover of private property via eminent domain to build a downtown parking garage.  The affected business owner, Anthony Ellenbogen, says he is not surprised by the BPA's decision to appeal yet is confident he will prevail again.

Earlier this month, Essex County Assignment Judge Patricia K. Costello ruled that Bloomfield's attempt to use its parking authority to take Ellenbogen's Lackawanna Place property violated an earlier settlement. Ellenbogen and other downtown merchants had successfully fended off a previous township attempt to use eminent domain.

BPA Chairman John Generazio says Costello's ruling will not deter the authority from building a downtown parking garage by acquiring all the necessary parcels.  "(The parking garage project) goes right to the core of the blight that plagues our downtown," said Generazio Friday afternoon, referring to the presence of gaping holes at several locations, already excavated in advance of future construction.

"We respectfully disagree with the court," Generazio said in a statement. "We are empowered by law to build a parking garage and to acquire property in furtherance of that purpose. The residents of Bloomfield demand that we continue our efforts undeterred."

Ellenbogen questioned why officials continue to pursue use of eminent domain despite several court rulings in his favor. He reaffirmed he will fight to keep his Lackawanna Place property, one of which is home to Garden State Yoga.  Ellenbogen has previously suggested the township should simply build around him.

"They're embarrassed that they got beaten so badly," he said. "My lawyers predicted they would appeal to save face. They're going to keep spending more taxpayer money."

The township council established the parking authority in 2004 and appointed a board of commissioners to set policy for the agency. The BPA manages, maintains and enforces all municipal parking within the township.

Once a bustling business district, Bloomfield's downtown has seen better days. For almost 25 years the township has been trying to redevelop its downtown, with little success.

The most recent proposal involves transforming a 3.3-acre site across from the Lackawanna Train Station into a "transit-oriented" hub, featuring residential, retail and commercial properties, along with the multi-story parking garage that is now the focal point of the latest dispute.

Just last year, Costello ordered the township to pay nearly $5 million to developer Forest City Daly, claiming its decision to fire the firm after another fruitless eminent domain attempt was a contract violation. The township must also pay a debt service of over $80,000 a year in interest as part of the $5 million judgment.

The parking authority has been proactive in acting "fairly and reasonably" with all stakeholders involved with the downtown redevelopment, Generazio said. As a result, it has come to terms with all of the affected property owners, he said - except Ellenbogen.

Ellenbogen contends the township has stopped negotiating with him. Generazio says the township is limited in how much money it can spend.

"Because we are spending public funds," Generazio said, "there is a limit on how much we can spend. Balancing our obligation to spend public funds carefully with our obligation to treat property owners fairly is always a challenge. We have succeeded in reaching the proper balance in every instance thus far and are hopeful that this success will extend to the last property owner on this block."

Miami Commission Proposes Taking Over Parking Authority
Patricia Mazzei and Charles Rabin / The Miami Herald
July 30, 2010

Voters will decide if Miami should take over the city's semi-autonomous parking authority, a move that would give commissioners power to restructure, privatize or get rid of the agency altogether.

With little discussion, commissioners agreed unanimously Thursday to put a charter change on the November ballot, but only after Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado sold them on the idea and carefully avoided saying what plans the administration had for the 50-year-old agency.

City leaders and parking authority administrators have discussed using the agency's revenues to back about $100 million in bonds. Most of that money could backfill Miami's depleted reserves.

"What is our end game?" asked commission Chairman Marc Sarnoff, who supported the 5-0 vote but raised questions about what the city's intentions were in the takeover.  If Miami takes over the authority, the cash-strapped city could shore up its budget by eliminating administrators' jobs.

Miami has a history of using parking revenues to bail it out of financial messes. Coming out of a crisis a decade ago, the city stuck commuters with a 20 percent parking surcharge that was only supposed to last five years. It's still charged today.

"How many times is the city going to use the parking industry to kind of save themselves from financial difficulty?" asked Ricardo Metral, a city parking operator.

He was one of two public speakers at Thursday's meeting. No parking authority leaders spoke.

Chicago Parking Meter Co. to Make $73M This Year
WLS-TV Chicago
July 30, 2010

Despite the public outcry over the price of Chicago's parking meters, revenue is stronger than expected, and you may be surprised where much of it is coming from.   According to the New York Times, the private company running the city's parking meter system could make even more cash.

Chicago Parking Meters, LLC plans to step up enforcement on its 36,000 meters in the second half of this year.   New documents show the majority of meter money is not made downtown, but in city neighborhoods.

Chicago Parking Meters paid the city more than a billion dollars to lease the city's meters for the next 75 years.  The private company is on track to make more than $73 million this year alone.

Whitaker Street Parking Garage Lawsuit Headed to Trial
Lesley Conn / Savannah Morning News
July 30, 2010

A Savannah city lawsuit over $15 million in contested charges from construction of the Whitaker Street parking garage is headed to trial in September.  To present the best case possible, City Council members on the advice of City Attorney Jimmy Blackburn voted Thursday to approve $313,392 in undisputed change orders.

"We don't want to go into it with any suggestion that we've been derelict in any bill we were supposed to pay," Blackburn said. "Those that we find that we legitimately owe, we're going to pay."

No other details were discussed publicly. The council went into closed session, which is allowed under state Sunshine laws, to discuss litigation.

The city requested nearly two dozen changes to help with functionality and appearance of the garage and the reclaimed, redesigned Ellis Square above it. Changes included adding illuminated garage entrance signs, adding computer conduit, additional drainage and painting, and modifying and re-orienting some staircases.

The city anticipated that some changes would come up during the building process and had budgeted almost $1.3 million for contingencies, said Bob Scanlon, director of water resources and facilities maintenance. Including the expenses approved Thursday, total change orders amount to $883,003.

Cost to build the garage, a 1,000-plus-space facility on Whitaker between Bay and Bryan streets, was $33.8 million.

The project's general contractor, Batson Cook, filed suit against the city in 2008 claiming that materially different soil conditions complicated and delayed construction. Shifting soils also led to cracks in neighboring historic buildings.

Sacked Austrailian Parking Committee Members Reinstated
Michelle Hoctor / Illawarra Mercury
July 30, 2010

Wollongong's parking meter scheme has become a public relations fiasco with two business leaders who were dropped from a review panel on Wednesday, welcomed back within 24 hours.  It came as the city council announced it had raised $500,000 from the meters in the four months since their introduction.

On July 6 the council announced a review of its original $2 flat fee to consider a pro rata system. Two weeks later, it announced a cut in fees while the review was being exhibited and a panel discussed options.

At the panel's first meeting last Friday, Phil Ryan and Andrew Reveley, representing Wollongong businesses, asked for a three-month moratorium on parking meter charges while the effect on businesses was assessed.

The request was declined, the council saying its objectives of deterring all-day parking by city workers and increasing turnover to make more parking spaces available was already being achieved.

On Wednesday, all five community members of the panel, including Wollongong City Centre general manager Paul Fanning, Illawarra Business Chamber president Greg Fisher and South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris, were told via email their membership was no longer required.

"While we respect your position, there is no benefit in further meeting with you," the council's manager of property and recreation Peter Coyte wrote.

Yesterday morning, the council said the email was sent to Mr Fanning, Mr Fisher and Mr Rorris in error, and calls were hastily made, informing them they were still welcome on the committee.

The status quo remained for Mr Ryan and Mr Reveley, however by last night the council said it had "reconsidered our approach", and contacted the two men, inviting them back.  Both sent an email declining the offer.

"No wonder they can't administer parking meters, they can't even administer an email," Mr Ryan said.

He admitted that without the council's agreement to a moratorium, he wasn't prepared to move forward.  "I've got to be honest, there probably wasn't a lot of future in me being on the committee," he said.  Mr Reveley said the mix-up "further shows the disarray that this council is working in".

The two plan to gauge the impact on the business community through a survey on Wednesday.  Both Messrs Rorris and Fisher accepted the council had made an error and said they were keen to continue on the committee.  Mr Fanning could not be contacted.

The council said the $500,000 raised so far had been set aside in a reserve to be spent on improvements to transport and parking in the city centre.

Parking Bargain Lures Efficient Vehicles in Boston
Peter DeMarco / The Boston Globe
July 29, 2010

Newbury Street, of all places, now offers the best parking deal in town, 25 cents an hour. But there is a catch: You have to ride a scooter or motorcycle to fit in the parking space.

In response to last year's scooter parking debate, the Boston Transportation Department has taken six parking spaces on Newbury and Boylston streets and divided them into the city's first metered bike slots. By 3 p.m. today, some 39 slots will be available to bikes in front of the Apple store, Starbucks, and other hot spots, each with meters that either a scooter or motorcycle can be chained to for safety.

Cars pay 25 cents for just 15 minutes to park. In addition to being cheaper, bike meters will not have time limits, meaning that bike-riding commuters can arrive at 8 a.m., feed the meter, and stay all day.

By creating the bike slots, city officials, including Mayor Thomas M. Menino are signaling a commitment to ecofriendly transportation, with many scooters getting 100 miles to a gallon. Parking signs for the slots are appropriately green, and if the slots are well used, more may pop up in other Boston neighborhoods next year.

"We have to accommodate the changes going on in our modes of transportation,'' said Menino, who is expected for today's 3 p.m. unveiling on Boylston Street. "I find more and and more people driving scooters than ever before. We're accommodating another class of riders in our city so they can park safety.''

Officials also hope by providing legal parking spots on streets, scooter riders will begin to migrate off sidewalks, where they have customarily parked for free.  But will scooter owners really pay to park when plopping a bike on the sidewalk still does not cost anything?

"I can honestly say I will do whatever is more convenient,'' said Caryn Hsu, 20, who rode her Honda Metropolitan scooter to work yesterday in the Back Bay. "Sometimes parking on the sidewalk is a hassle. I have to wait for people to move on the sidewalk, and sometimes people get a little upset if I bring my bike on the sidewalk. If there were so many parking spots on the street that it's just as easy to park there, I would pay 25 cents.''

Thomas Tinlin, the city's transportation commissioner, said he is optimistic that bike owners will gravitate to the slots because owners he has spoken with have repeatedly told him they would rather obey the law and inhabit an official parking space.

While Boston allows scooter-size bikes to be parked unobtrusively on sidewalks, they are technically not allowed there. If the city chose to ticket bikes on sidewalks, it could do so at any time, particularly now that most scooters are required by the Registry of Motor Vehicles to have easy-to-track license plates.

Back Bay business owners think the new slots are a good idea, even if means the loss of a few, valuable car parking spaces.  "As motorized vehicles, scooters should be on the street,'' said Tom Clay, district manager for Sleepy's mattresses on Boylston Street.

Hsu said she appreciates that the city is trying to accommodate scooters, but suggested a slightly different strategy.  "Maybe if they created the slots and let bikers park in them for free, then more people would be encouraged to buy scooters and save the Earth,'' she said.

Judge Parks Easton, Pa., Woman in Jail Over $27,000 in Parking Fines
Pamela Lehman / The Morning Call
July 29, 2010

A worker at the district judge's office took a deep breath before she tried to pick up Nilka Lockhart's stack of parking violations, a nearly foot-tall pile bound with rubber bands.

Lockhart - who owes more than $27,200 for hundreds of unpaid Easton parking violations and court costs - was nabbed by two constables Wednesday night. Lockhart was brought before Senior District Judge Elizabeth Romig, who has been working about a month at the now vacant district judge's office in Wilson.

Romig said in her nearly 30 years on the bench, she has never seen anything like Lockhart's case. She sentenced Lockhart to serve 90 days in Northampton County Prison. "She said, 'You're going to send me to jail for parking tickets?' And I said, 'Yes, I am,'" Romig recalled Thursday. "I told her, 'You could have bought yourself a new car with this.'"

Lockhart, 46, of 1445 Lehigh St. has been racking up Easton parking and vehicle violations since 2007 including illegal parking, driving an unregistered vehicle, failing to have a current inspection, storage of a vehicle on a street and failing to pay the meter.

For each violation that Lockhart failed to pay within 30 days, the citation was turned over to the district judge's office. If a notice was mailed and Lockhart still failed to make a payment, a warrant was issued for her arrest. Lockhart's file includes hundreds of violations and dozens of warrants.

Lockhart had arranged several times with the office to pay for the violations, Romig said, but failed to keep up with the payments.  "It's a blatant disregard for the law," Romig said. "It's as simple as that."

Parking tickets in Easton are issued by one of six parking enforcement officers, said police Capt. Carl Scalzo, who supervises the department. Scalzo said he was not familiar with the details of Lockhart's case.

He said most people aren't aware that failing to pay a $20 parking ticket could result in a warrant issued for their arrest.  In 2007, a violation against Lockhart for failing to put money in a parking meter languished so long it was sent to Northampton County Court. In February, Lockhart pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced to pay more than $1,800. So far, Lockhart has paid about $700 in fines and costs.

This month, Romig said two constables have served more than 500 warrants out of the Wilson office, many are for motor vehicle violations. The constables who arrested Lockhart did not want their names used.

Easton has its share of parking scofflaws. District Judge Gay Elwell recently sent police a top 10 list of violators who owe about $41,000 in violations, fines and costs, Scalzo said.  One person on the list owes about $7,000, he said.

Scalzo said the city is experimenting with a wireless system tied to 50 meters downtown. If someone parks a vehicle and doesn't plug the meter within a few minutes, an alert noting the location is sent to parking enforcement officers, who can immediately ticket violators.

Many downtown merchants have told police business is improving with the new system because more parking spots are available, Scalzo said.

"We're not trying to balance the budget on tickets, but we're hoping the violators will get the message and comply," he said. "Just put a quarter in the meter or if there's a sign telling you not to park there, don't."

TriMet Opens First Bike And Ride Facility in Portland, Ore.
FOX12-Oregon
July 29, 2010

TriMet opened the first of three bike and ride parking facilities in the Portland area Thursday.  The bike and ride at Sunset Transit Center is an enclosed building with key card access that provides secure parking for 74 bikes, which allows more bicyclists to make connections to bus and MAX trains.

The Sunset Transit Center bike and ride followed the model of bike capitals from Europe like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, where commuters rely heavily on bike parking facilities.

Bike and ride users pay for secure parking time just like at a parking meter. Key cards cost $20 and are good for about 10 weeks of daily parking at any TriMet bike and ride.  Later this fall, bike and ride buildings will open in Beaverton and at the Gresham Central Transit Center.

TriMet is paying for the bike and rides by using $1.1 million in stimulus funds. The Sunset Transit Center facility repurposed eight parking spaces at the 630-space garage.

Parking Program to Assist Graduate Students at Michigan State
Andrew Krietz / The State News
July 28, 2010

MSU's graduate student government and the city of East Lansing plan to introduce a new parking program in the fall for graduate and professional students, following a deal reached Tuesday.

The Council of Graduate Students, or COGS, has discussed the possibility of such a program with city officials since fall 2009. Under the program, which was approved by the East Lansing City Council on Tuesday, the city would sell a bulk number of parking permits at $150 - a 50 percent discount - per semester for Lot 10, or the Division Street ramp.

The city would require a minimum of 100 permits be purchased by COGS and then sold to graduate students, relieving the city parking department of paperwork and allowing COGS to sell the permits themselves at a reduced cost, said Shannon Demlow, the COGS vice president of internal affairs.

"We are working with the city because they have a lot of structures that are only maybe half-full during peak hours," Demlow said. "(This program) allows students to purchase permits for those spots that work for (a) graduate student's salary."

Currently, graduate assistants are able to purchase a parking permit at $111 per semester for Lot 89, according to the MSU Department of Police and Public Safety website.

Although parking spaces might pose transportation issues for students who work south of the Red Cedar River near Lot 89, it becomes more difficult for those who work on the north side of campus and must commute to get there, Demlow said.

The economic disparity between the two permit prices is reason enough to converse with the city on this issue, she said.

"(Students) are forced to take the bus, bike or walk," Demlow said. "That forces them to spend of lot of time and work getting to campus (when) they could be bettering their time doing research."

Tim Dempsey, East Lansing's planning and development director, said officials felt the price COGS recommended per permit - $125 - was too low given that it was greater than 50 percent off.

"The bottom line is they're very interested in pursuing and going forward with this," Dempsey said. "It's a good way to get some additional parkers in the system - COGS will be a much larger user than any other parking user in the downtown (area)."

With a minimum number of permits purchased by COGS, the pilot program will run in the fall and spring 2011 for the upper levels of the parking garage, Dempsey said.

East Lansing Parking Administrator Dan O'Connor was told by Mayor Vic Loomis to "go fill them up" after the council approved the program.

"At any given time we have more than 100 open spaces at peak times - (there is) plenty of space to absorb this," O'Connor said.

SFMTA Launches Demand-Based Parking Pilot Program
KTVU-San Francisco
July 27, 2010

At Tuesday's unveiling of newly installed "smart meters" as part of the SFPark pilot project, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency had a message for the city's drivers: we're working for you.

Not only will the meters make it easier to park by improving space availability, but the SFMTA is anticipating that the ease of payment will mean fewer drivers will be taking a chance by parking without paying.

That's because the new meters, 190 of which were launched Tuesday in Hayes Valley, accept payment by credit card in addition to coins.  Over the next two years, the SFMTA will collect data from 8,300 wireless sensors and thousands of smart meters launched through the SFPark pilot.

SFMTA Executive Director Nathaniel Ford said that making it easier for drivers to pay for parking will help them avoid the frustration that comes with parking citations.  "We'd much prefer that our revenue comes from meters," Ford said.

Currently, the city collects approximately $26 million in parking meter revenue and $20 million from issuing parking citations, Ford said.  By extending time limits at some metered spaces and offering flexible payment options, the SFMTA expects to issue fewer parking citations, according to the SFPark website.

As the parking program gains momentum, less double parking and fewer drivers circling high-demand areas are expected to improve San Francisco Municipal Railway services, according to the SFMTA.  The meter rates, which range from 25 cents per hour to $6 per hour, will be adjusted based on demand over the course of the pilot program. Currently, drivers pay between $1 and $3.50 per hour.

Prices might triple during special events, such as baseball games, meaning drivers would be asked to spend up to $18 per hour for street parking.  Ford said the pilot program aims to achieve a stable number of available spaces - the target value is 15 percent availability. According to the SFPark website, that number will be attained by charging the lowest possible hourly rate.  "It's our goal to use the meters for congestion and to curb emissions," Ford said. "We are collecting the data to make better decisions."

When the agency releases the sensor network data to the public in early 2011, the SFMTA anticipates software developers will develop applications that deliver real-time data to motorists through smart phones or other GPS navigation systems.

Over the next three months, 5,100 smart meters will replace existing meters across eight pilot areas in six regions of the city, including Fisherman's Wharf and the South of Market area, which were selected for their mix of tourism, residential and commercial activity.

Although the SFMTA also offers parking cards in varying denominations, those cards are not yet compatible with the new meters because of software issues. Ford said that payment option should become available within the next two months.

The new meters will operate within the same parking times as existing meters, meaning drivers will continue to park free after 6 p.m. and on Sundays.

Concerned Residents Speak Out Against Parking Plan
KDKA-Pittsburgh
July 27, 2010

More than a dozen people spoke out at a city council public hearing last night to voice their concerns over a proposed parking plan that could lead to parking rate hikes.  Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl is pushing a proposal to lease all city parking garages and meters to boost the city's pension fund.

But the plan will also likely raise parking fees, which isn't sitting well with dozens of people who attended last night's hearing.  Those who oppose the mayor's proposal say it's the surest way to drive businesses and shoppers out of downtown.

"Selling off parking assets will only ensure two things: higher parking rates and less revenue for the city long term," one speaker said at Monday night's hearing.

"A lot of people aren't coming into town and they don't want to pay," another concerned resident added, "so they're certainly not going to pay $2 an hour. They're gonna park in front of my house, in front of my neighbor's house, in front of the hospitals, because they don't want to do it and we have nowhere to go and we can't do anything." 

At least three more public hearings are planned over the next several days to give people the chance to debate the issue.

Changes May Come for Downtown Austin Parking
KXAN-Austin
July 26, 2010

After a series of stakeholder meetings, the Austin Transportation Department is finalizing recommendations that could extend parking meter hours and restrict valet parking in the downtown area.

According to a memo sent to the mayor and council members from Transportation Director Robert Spillar , stakeholders representing downtown businesses and neighborhoods support both ideas.  But, business owners who have parking meters directly in front of their business, aren't exactly in favor of the idea to increase the time-limit on city parking meters.

"We're surrounded by two to three corners of paid parking," said Terri Singleton. "So, I think that's really going to deter our guests from coming to dine with us, if they know that they're going have difficulty finding parking and secondly they're going to pay for it as well."

Singleton is one of the owners of the Clay Pit restaurant off Guadalupe Street in downtown Austin.  "Most people (have) dinner reservations between 7 and 8 o'clock and so that's peak time for restaurants in this area."

Currently, city-owned parking meters operate from 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Monday through` Friday. Weekends, holidays and after-hour parking are free. Previous discussions at City Hall about extending parking hours extended the cut-off time from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.  "7 o'clock is a prime time to eat. So definitely, I think it would affect us a little bit," Singleton said.

Drivers who frequent downtown are mixed on the idea. "I think it's a good idea," John Joyner said. "If I can afford a restaurant, I can afford a few quarters at the meter."

"I think it actually helps business having parking be free at happy hour," Evelyn Porter said. "I'd hate to see us have un-happy hours as a result of yet another penalty of trying to live in downtown austin."

ATD spokesperson Karla Villalon said they are still working on a recommendation and do not have a specific time in mind yet.

When it comes to valet parking restrictions, Villalon said the general consensus among stakeholders is that there is not enough enforcement of current valet rules in the downtown area. Currently, roughly 45 parking spots are reserved for valet companies, some as early as 2 p.m. The Council could take up the downtown parking issue starting sometime next month.

Reaction to Lynchburg Parking Meters From Business Owners Mixed
Bryan Gentry / The Lynchburg News & Advance
July 25, 2010

When downtown businesses convinced Lynchburg to get rid of parking meters more than 30 years ago, Bill Puckett didn't expect to see them again.

"If you want to discourage people from coming to shop downtown, this is an excellent way to do it," said Puckett, owner of Lynchburg Camera Shop, which has been downtown since the 1930s.

"There were good reasons to remove the parking meters back in the day, and they are still valid today."

About half a block down Main Street, bridal shop owner Leecy Fink is not worried about the looming return of paid parking. She said downtown's unique qualities will keep customers coming.

"I would hope that people would realize that because we are offering something different, that if they had to pay a dollar per hour for parking, it's worth it to shop down here," Fink said.

Puckett and Fink represent two distinct schools of thought on Main Street as Lynchburg moves toward paid parking in downtown parking decks and streets.

One thing most business owners agree on is that there are parking problems, and most of them stem from downtown workers parking in the street for hours on end.

The city's solution to that problem, proposed by Carl Walker Inc.'s study of downtown parking in 2007, is to reinstate paid parking.

Barber Doug Pickeral pointed out that his customers don't have trouble finding places to park - most spaces on his block between 11th and 12th street were empty on a recent Thursday afternoon.

"If they have to pay a dollar parking, then they wouldn't come down here to get a haircut," said Pickeral, who has worked downtown for more than 50 years.

Just inside his front door, Pickeral displays a parking meter that Lynchburg used decades ago. According to news archives, the meters were removed in 1978 after businesses convinced the city that free parking would help downtown compete with new shopping districts.

Robin Cheek, owner of Farmer's Seed and Supply, said that The Plaza used to advertise its "acres of free parking."

Bringing paid parking back is "the stupidest thing I could ever think for them to do," said Cheek, whose family has owned the store for decades. "I feel like this is going to give people one more reason not to come downtown."

The area would need more stores and attractions before people would want to pay to park, she said.

Downtown developer Oliver Kuttner said the area needs a movie theater and more restaurants to attract more people to visit and spend money there. Until then, it is not ready for paid parking, he said. "We want more people to want to go downtown, not fewer."

Several opponents of paid parking said stricter enforcement would suffice to solve the parking problems. Melinda Tennis, owner of a frame shop on Church Street, said city officials should do more to encourage companies to tell their employees not to park in the street.

Other business owners see some advantages to paid parking in the street and do not think it would choke business.

David Somers, owner of L. Oppleman Pawn, said a lot has changed since downtown business was declining and the parking meters were removed.

"I think it's finally having its rebirth," Somers said. "It's not just talk now. You've got a lot of people putting their own money into buildings."

He said most people wouldn't be bothered by paying 50 cents to $1 to park.

Beth Baxter, owner of Taste Selects Confectionary on Ninth Street, said the $50 per-month fee to park at the Midtown Parking Deck didn't deter her from opening her store downtown. She doubts parking pay stations will affect business much.

Biff Bowen, owner of Bowen Jewelry, also said he doesn't anticipate much of an impact on his business because it has its own parking lot, and if its customers chose to park in the street, the business would be willing to pay for the parking.

Rob Wyatt said most customers of Downtown Pizza walk in from their offices, so paid parking would not affect them. He thinks most of the new system's impact on businesses could be temporary. "After six months to a year, everyone's going to be used to it," he said.

Parking Remains an Issue for Oswego
Rowena Vergara / The Beacon-News
July 24, 2010

Now that a retail and condo project that developers said would solve parking problems downtown has been withdrawn, what is the village's plan to alleviate parking woes?

After the majority of trustees failed to support the parking garage component of Alexander Square this week, the Village Board launched into a discussion about the lack of downtown parking during large-scale

Ideas tossed about included offering parking at Village Square and shuttling residents with golf carts, similar to what is done at PrairieFest, Oswego's summer festival. Trustee Terry Michels mentioned the possibility of a shuttle service for events like Wine on the Fox. He also floated the idea of razing an old Building and Zoning building to make way for parking.

Others stressed the need for parking uphill on Washington Street.

How bad is the problem? In 2007, Camille's Sidewalk Cafe shut down after a year in business on Washington Street. It was in the same development (Washington Place) that now includes Tap House Grill and Salon Spa Suitesy. Camille's owner blamed the business' demise on a lack of parking in front of her quick-serve eatery.

Coincidentally, the reason Washington Place at 123 Washington St. exists is because the village entered a partnership on the parking lot there, according to Michael Cassa, executive director of the Oswego Economic Development Corporation.

Cassa told the board that in order to get restaurants downtown, parking is necessary within a block.

Trustee Tony Giles said he wants the Community Development Department staff to analyze parking needs before any possible lots would be created.

Trustee Scott Volpe said parking solutions should be addressed if and when the next major business, restaurant or retailer wants to open.

"We know we need parking. We don't know what we need parking for. Once there's a bona fide proposal or a limb of an idea, we can start working with that," he said.

According to the village's Downtown Framework Plan approved in 2009, there is a deficit of 315 parking spaces per current zoning requirements of five spaces per 1,000 square feet.

Council Moves to Ease Atlanta Parking Problems with New Zones
Ernie Suggs / The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
July 23, 2010

On Thursday night, Mat "Quickie" Tainow took a stroll through downtown Atlanta.

He walked along Luckie Street. Then Forsyth Street. Then Cone Street, before making his way back to Poplar Street, where his restaurant, Sidebar, is located.

"There wasn't a single car parked on the streets," Tainow said. "Fairlie-Poplar is still up and coming and it is a struggle to get people here on nights and weekends. I have had people tell me, 'I am not coming down there because there is nowhere to park.' That kind of makes it tough to run a business."

Which creates an interesting paradox: dozens of empty parking spaces, but no cars to use them. That might change soon.

For the second time in less than a year, the Atlanta City Council has completely changed the city's parking regulations. Earlier this week, the council voted to create at least four distinct parking zones that would each have unique parking hours and restrictions.

With the 10-0 vote the council moved to increase the time limits of metered parking in certain areas and to eliminate overnight parking restrictions in those areas altogether. Sunday enforcement also was eliminated, though Atlanta police still will ticket and tow illegally parked cars.

"This legislation creating the parking zones is a real shift in the way we view metered parking in Atlanta," said Post 1 At-Large City Council member Michael Julian Bond, who wrote the legislation as chairman of the council's Transportation Subcommittee on Parking Enforcement. "It makes the application of it more practical and it takes into consideration the needs of the public. There is no one-size-fits-all in usage, and parking options should reflect that."

The enforcement of the new regulations goes into effect immediately. However, Bond has given the city's Department of Public Works 90 days to change all of the city's signage and reprogram the parking meters.

"We want to maintain a vibrant and growing city and to do that we must ease any unnecessary restrictions for our residents and visitors," said City Council President Ceasar C. Mitchell. "By allowing for additional parking hours in certain areas, businesses will benefit as well."

Atlanta's parking woes began late last year when the city entered into a contract with PARKatlanta to allow the company to manage all of the city's parking enforcement, including the issuance of parking citations.

Under the contract, PARKatlanta would pay the city $5.5 million a year and keep the rest of the revenue. With the change, every parking meter and area in the city came under the same restrictions -- the most severe being 24-hour parking enforcement and two-hour limits on metered parking.

Drivers complained that PARKatlanta was being too aggressive and even acting illegally as a nonsworn agency issuing traffic tickets. Some business owners -- like Tainow -- complained that the metered parking killed their business.

Downtown resident and Atlanta Downtown Neighborhood Association board member Todd A. Craig said he is a strong proponent of strict parking enforcement.

"The main issues with the transition to PARKatlanta were not PARKatlanta's fault," said Craig, who placed the blame on the city for a failure to streamline signage and establish the parking zones earlier.

"A lot of this drama and public backlash could have been avoided had those things been thought through beforehand," Craig said. "Downtown has such a high volume of traffic during business hours that those who chose to squat in spaces all day really were inconveniencing so many others for their own self interest."

As someone who commutes to the city daily, Pamela Arnold, the president of the nonprofit American Institute for Managing Diversity, welcomed the clarity that the parking changes provide.

"Even when I am at work, I have a number of meetings across the city and I am always looking for places to park," Arnold said. "The challenge was finding something clearly identifiable and available. I welcome the structure and the efficiency being gained."

For Tainow, who also owns Engine 11 on North Avenue, the changes should bring relief. His establishments  likely will be in an "entertainment zone." Those areas, which will include restaurants and hospitals, will have four-hour meters and enforcement from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.

"Those new hours seem more reasonable," Tainow said. "We live in a city and I am not saying there should be free parking. I understand the city's need to raise money, but to do it in a way to impede businesses is not right."

Here is a snapshot of the new zones:

Business/Government Zone:

An area where parking is occupied by patrons of businesses or government offices with high need for parking turnover. Enforcement days are Monday through Saturday. Enforcement hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Parking time limit is two hours.

Mixed Use Zone

An area where buildings have multiple uses, including residential and commercial, but do not have on-site parking. Enforcement days are Monday through Friday. Enforcement hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Parking time limit is three hours.

School/University Zone

An area where the majority of parking is occupied by attendees of post-secondary colleges and universities. Enforcement days are Monday through Saturday. Enforcement hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Parking time limit is three hours.

Entertainment/Restaurant/Hospital Zone

An area where the majority of parking is occupied by patrons of theaters, museums, restaurants, other entertainment venues and hospitals. Enforcement days are Monday through Saturday. Enforcement hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Parking time limit is four hours.

Dialing for Parking Launched on the MBTA
The Boston Globe
July 23, 2010

Commuters today quickly embraced new technology that allows them to pay for parking at MBTA stations using their phones, ending the old-fashioned coin-stuffing, bill-folding system of paying for parking.

"The new payment system is off to a terrific start,'' MBTA general manager Richard Davey said in an e-mail today. "There is no doubt in my mind that this will be one of the most popular customer service initiatives the T has ever launched.''

The old system is still in place. Today, customers at 70 MBTA-owned lots containing a total of 23,733 parking spaces can now pay by credit card for the first time using their phones.

Davey said some 1,500 riders have enrolled and 600 used their new accounts to pay for parking today. The busiest place earlier today was the Hingham commuter boat dock where 177 riders paid by phone, the T said.

The pay-by-phone system developed by the company Parkmobile allows cellphone users to pay for parking using a mobile app, text message, or phone call. Parkers can also pay and manage their accounts online. More information and a list of the 70 lots is available at mbta.com.

 

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