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The city of Eugene is adding almost 200 new parking meters to streets bordering the University of Oregon campus and raising parking rates on all meters in the area by 50 percent.
The new meters will be installed on streets east of the university near the new Matthew Knight Arena, which opens in January, and on some streets west of campus.The higher rate $1.50 an hour, up from $1 an hour, will apply to all 675 city-run meters in the university district.
The Register-Guard reports the price increase is the second in the university area in two years. In 2008 the city raised the rate 33 percent, to $1 an hour from 75 cents an hour.
Anna Rainer manages a shop on Hayes Street and has noticed a change in her customers during the past few weeks. "There's just not the stress there was before," she said. "People are a little bit calmer."
The serenity, she speculates, comes from an unlikely source: the new parking meters lining the street outside.
Drivers no longer have to worry about coming up with enough change or a city-issued prepaid parking card to feed the meters. Now they can use credit or debit cards, and can park for two hours, allowing more time to shop and eat before the meter minder issues a $55 ticket.
"People used to come in here all the time asking for quarters and worried about getting a ticket," said Rainer, whose shop, Minimal, specializes in home accessories.
San Francisco installed 190 high-tech meters in Hayes Valley in late July as part of a federally funded pilot project that aims to reduce traffic congestion by micromanaging the supply and price of curbside parking and city-owned garages.
The idea is to adjust meter rates based on demand, with the goal of discouraging drivers from circling.
The new meters are expected to play a key role in making the program, known as SFpark, work.
At this early juncture of the two-year study, city officials are simply testing the new meter technology and gathering parking data from sensors embedded in the asphalt that monitor when a space is in use.
Oakland, Redwood City, Seattle and scores of other cities already use the high-tech meters. But San Francisco is the first city to try to use them to manage congestion on a large scale.
Alex Clark of Berkeley pulled into a space on Hayes Street one recent morning not knowing he was part of a national experiment. He had no trouble navigating the instructions as he plugged in his debit card and selected how long he'd be parked.
Quite a difference from the high-tech, multispace meters installed along the Embarcadero as a precursor to SFpark whose design confuses drivers.
Eventually, the Municipal Transportation Agency plans to include 5,100 metered spaces, about 20 percent of the city's metered spots, in the SFpark pilot program.
Project manager Jay Primus gave high marks to the Hayes Valley rollout. While there have been a "few small issues here and there," he said, "so far the meters have been working smoothly."
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who represents the neighborhood, reported similar findings. "People like the modernization and ease of use."
The old Amway Arena is fairly predictable when it comes to traffic: People show up a half-hour or so before the event, then leave in droves when the final buzzer sounds or the last song plays.
As a result, it takes as much as 45 minutes to clear the streets of post-event traffic.
Getting to - and out of - the new Amway Center, slated to open Oct. 1, will be a much different experience.
The $480 million building itself features a plethora of bars and restaurants, and it's minutes from an even larger collection of entertainment options. Orlando planners figure that will translate into fewer traffic jams because fans will have lots more to do before and after the event.
Patrons also will find parking to be more plentiful around the new center than the old arena, which sits about half-dozen blocks north of downtown.
If you can snag a spot in one of the two garages on either side of the new home of the Orlando Magic, it will cost $20, or double the charge for close-by spaces at the old arena.
But with a bit of a walk, you can cut that price in half to $10 by taking advantage of the 11 garages and several surface lots nearby.
All told, about 7,400 spots arewithin a five-minute walk of the center. That's more than enough, Orlando transportation experts figure, to handle a sellout crowd at the 18,500-seat facility.
Outside of the two close-by garages, the majority of the spots, both in garages and on the street, will cost $10.
Expand your horizons to a 10-minute walk, and there are more than 10,000 parking places. The old arena had fewer than 4,000 spots nearby.
"There are a ton of spots available," Charles Ramdatt, the city's chief transportation engineer, said of the Amway Center.
The Lymmo bus that circulates for free downtown also will run during games and concerts, with a stop at Church Street and Orange Avenue, just a few blocks east of the new building.
Directing traffic and parking have been the focus of several years of study and planning by city officials. They are relying on two main arteries - Interstate 4 and State Road 408 - to funnel the majority of the cars to downtown and then to the center.
They will use a combination of new signs, including electronic-message boards, to point drivers in the right directions.
The signs also will promote downtown businesses, hoping to bring more customers to the shops and bars near the center.
Traffic engineers figure most of the people going to the center eventually will have to walk for at least a few blocks. So, they are devising ways to make the journey easier.
They are upgrading Gertrude's Walk, a brick path that runs north-south through much of downtown and just east of the railroad tracks. The city also is spending $4.6 million to turn Church Street from Garland to Hughey avenues into a pedestrian mall that essentially will be closed to traffic for events.
"We want to make it a much more pleasant place than it has been," said Frank Usina, the city's community-venue project manager.
Along with improvements that are hard to see, such as underground utilities, sewer lines and better drainage, the city is installing street lighting, planting live oak and palm trees and widening sidewalks. A sound system on the streets will let people hear what's going on inside the center, too.
Adding to the ambience will be a light show reflecting different colors and shapes off the pillars and walls beneath the interstate.
Orlando also is working on an "informal parking" policy that likely will prevent the few homeowners in the area from charging people to park on their front lawns. That has been a common practice for those living near the old arena since it opened 21 years ago.
Under the city's proposed rules - which could be approved by the City Council as early as Monday - cars could only be parked on hard surfaces such as gravel or asphalt, adequate lighting would be required and attendants would have to be on duty at all times. Property owners would need a city permit, too.
City officials also are talking about setting rates - possibly $10 - presumably so private lots would not undercut prices at Orlando's own garages. There are about 1,000 informal slots available.
Walter Hawkins, an aide to Mayor Buddy Dyer, said the administration wants to ensure parking throughout the area is up to par with the city's new arena.
"We're trying to make sure our guests have a wonderful experience when they come to the Amway Center," Hawkins said. "We feel we have adequate parking throughout downtown, but there may be those who want to park in these alternate locations."
City Commissioner Daisy Lynum, whose district includes the new building, said the rules are designed "to make people feel safe," as well as allow some of the small businesses and churches in the area to make money.
Despite all the planning, city officials concede changes may need to be made, so they'll be watching from a perch above the nearby 55 West condominium tower during the first major event, an Eagles concert Oct. 7.
"We need to get this right," said Kevin Edmunds, a top city administrator.
Parking has proven to be a challenge in the early weeks of the new Uptown shopping centre on north Douglas Street this summer.
Confusion and congestion have at times stymied drivers heading into and out of the parking lots at the former Town and Country shopping centre, where anchor stores began opening last month.
One problem has been construction continuing as customers arrive at the centre, said Geoff Nagle, director of development for Morguard Investments in Western Canada.
The first phase is expected to be finished early next month, and the second phase of the massive retail-office project will begin.
"The extremely successful openings of the anchor stores to date have led to periods of congestion on the site," said Nagle, noting directional signs have been improved, and traffic-control and customer-service personnel added to deal with the problem.
At peak times when the anchor stores opened, as many as 1,200 vehicles were counted per hour, he said.
Drivers have three main lots to choose from, totalling more than 1,300 parking stalls, he said. "There's ample parking."
Victoria's Jennifer Stubbs ended up with a $121 traffic ticket last week for making an illegal right turn onto Carey Road off Douglas Street while trying to follow an Uptown sign.
Stubbs said Friday that she made the mistake because she was "flustered" and had other drivers behind her.
She discussed with a Morguard official how to make it easier for motorists to figure out where to turn. Other drivers are making the same mistake, she said.
Shortly after the first July anchor store openings, shopper Darryl Perry found himself caught in a parking crunch in one of the lots.
"It was like a zoo," he said at the time, figuring it took more than an hour to inch out of the area.
Lots are below Walmart and under Uptown Boulevard, and off Blanshard Street.
On-street parking is also located at ground level on the boulevard and next to Douglas Street.
Parking lots below Walmart and Uptown Boulevard are connected. Drivers can enter from Douglas Street or Oak Street, via Saanich Road.
The Blanshard lot is only accessible from that street for now, although that will change when the second phase is finished, Nagle said.
Parking confusion will disappear as drivers become used to the site, he said.
"It's getting better as people get to know where they are going."
The grand staircase running from the Blanshard Street lot to grade is not yet open.
Its completion was delayed by about a month because stone was late in arriving, Nagle said.
Shoppers using the Blanshard Street lot, where Shoppers Drug Mart is among the anchor stores, can use an elevator.
The project includes 226 bike racks, said Nagle, adding Uptown continues to develop into a "true urban mixed-use neighbourhood."
"There will be challenges and growing pains along the way, but the process will continue to be monitored and all efforts made to ensure as smooth and efficient an experience as possible."
Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard said the municipality granted occupancy permits to allow stores to open, people to work and to stimulate the economy, despite some inconvenience.
"I think every other municipality in Canada would have a parade to have this kind of infrastructure development and these kinds of jobs created in a recession."
Uptown's contributions include $550,000 toward a $3-million Tattersall Road improvement package including traffic calming, he said.
Morguard is also putting in $125,700 for Galloping Goose-Lochside Trail improvements, $100,000 for transit stops, and two cars and parking space for the Victoria Care Share Co-op.
Infrastructure upgrades are worth $1.9 million, total transportation improvements are valued at $2.7 million, and Saanich will get $2.5 million in tax revenues annually from Uptown, Leonard said.
Travelers at Detroit Metro Airport spend more than $80 million each year parking their cars, and Wayne County wants to make sure it's getting its piece of the action. The county budget calls for an audit of the airport parking tax, a 27% levy on gross receipts for all parking lots at the airport and any lots within a 5-mile radius. The goal is to increase revenue for the cash-strapped county.
County budgeters believe they're getting short-changed by lot
operators -- an accusation the largest operator of private lots
denies. In 2008, the tax generated more than $15.2 million
for the county, but this budget year, which ends Sept. 30, the tax
is on track to generate about $9 million. County Executive Robert
Ficano included an additional $7 million in airport tax revenue in
his proposed 2009-10 budget.
"With a consistent and visible audit and collection effort, the county should have no trouble reaching its budgeted revenue total for 2009-2010," spokeswoman Stephanie Baron said.
County commissioners have scaled back the assumption to about $5 million in preliminary budget figures. Part of the revenue decline could stem from fewer fliers. Passenger traffic at the airport peaked in 2005 at 36.4 million travelers and fell to about 31 million last year. This year, the figure is on track to be about the same or up slightly.
Motor City Central Parking, a private company, operates the 18,642 parking spaces on the airport grounds. The company deposits all receipts into Airport Authority accounts, which are reconciled with automated records from the lots, said airport spokesman Michael Conway. "It's a pretty tight system," Conway said.
Off-site parking lot operators say the same thing. "We're definitely paying our parking tax," said Julie Allison, vice president of Airline Parking, which operates more than 14,000 spots in three lots near the airport.
Under Michigan law, the first $6 million collected from the tax pays for security upgrades at state airports. The City of Romulus gets $1.5 million and the rest funds health care for poor people in Wayne County. Conway said that since the recession began in 2007, travelers have been more cost conscious. Anecdotal evidence indicates many of them are having friends and relatives shuttle them to the airport to save money, he said. With parking revenue falling, the Airport Authority has cut the daily fee at the Big Blue Deck from $16 to $10. "We anticipate our recent action to reduce the rate will bring some of those customers back," Conway said.
Searching for a parking spot on one of the crowded campus lots can create a headache, but local colleges and universities are helping to reduce the stress with new parking programs.
Steve Woodall, director of security at the University of Southern Indiana, said USI is making some adjustments to parking this fall, including adding a new lot and doubling the size of another.
"The first couple weeks of school, we find that the lots are very crowded with students coming out to meet friends, and they are spending more time on campus. After those first couple weeks, the number of vehicles slows down or becomes spread out," Woodall said.
In addition to adding parking lots near the newly built business engineering building, USI plans to continue its park-and-ride satellite bus program that began last year. The university will bus students from the old Walmart parking lot every 30 minutes between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. for the first five weeks of classes.
USI also launched a program this year called "Zimride" that works as an online social networking site to help create a carpooling system for students. Students can log onto the site at zimride.com and sign up to be a driver or rider.
The university also will move its fleet vehicles to an exterior lot, creating more spaces for student drivers.
Woodall said he hopes this combination of parking plans will mitigate parking issues for the coming year and help ease the frustration of searching for a spot before class.
"We have plenty of parking, it just might not be right next to the building you need. We're finding ways to work with students," Woodall said.
Harold Matthews, director of safety and security at the University of Evansville, said his department hasn't made any changes in the way they'll handle parking in the fall, but the penalty for parking illegally has been increased.
"We're raising the fines a little bit, about $5 on some of the fines, just to help get everyone moved into where they belong," Matthews said.
Over the years, Matthews said, the university has added spaces and lost some, but it has been able to find a decent balance in the end.
"What we have here at the University of Evansville has never really been a parking problem, it's a walking problem," he said.
Drivers don't want to have to park away from the building and walk down the block to campus, he explained, but if they want to avoid fines, it's for the best.
Ivy Tech currently has about 1,100 student spaces located on campus, said Alisha Aman, Ivy Tech executive director of administration.
In previous years, the school has partnered with a nearby church to create parking spaces for overflow. Beginning spring semester, said Aman, a new parking lot on the North end of campus should be ready for use.
"We expect them to be completed by the end of November or early December, and that should add an extra 120 parking spots for the spring," she said.
So, it looks like the much-ballyhooed and long-delayed CitySquare redevelopment project is finally going to happen.
When City Manager Michael V. O'Brien announced last week that a formal groundbreaking ceremony will be held for the project Sept. 13, it signaled that CitySquare is about to become a reality after six years of all sorts of false hopes, setbacks and disappointments.
Sure, the dormant project was given a badly needed jumpstart a few months ago when a new developer (CitySquare II Development Co. LLC) entered the picture, and some preliminary construction activity has already begun at the former Worcester Common Outlets mall, which will be razed to make way for CitySquare.
Nevertheless, a lot of people still remained skeptical about CitySquare ever happening.
But a formal groundbreaking changes all that. There is no turning back after the ceremonial shovels are pushed into the ground, because a lot of reputations will be at stake from that point on.
The first phase of CitySquare alone is certain to dramatically alter Worcester's downtown landscape.
The massive vacant mall and sections of the parking garage will be demolished to make way for the construction of a new eight-story, 214,000-square-foot building to be leased by Unum Group, and a new roadway (Mercantile Street) will be built to provide a direct connection from Major Taylor Boulevard through to Front Street and the Worcester Common.
But noticeably absent from that first phase is one of the key elements of the CitySquare project - the extension of Front Street through to Washington Square and Union Station.
When the concept of CitySquare was first broached by former Mayor Timothy P. Murray several years ago, the intent was not only to redevelop and revitalize Worcester's downtown, but to re-establish a direct connection from the downtown to the city's East Side that existed before the mall was built in the late 1960s.
The extension of Front Street to Washington Square was touted time and time again as one of the most important aspects of the project. But if it's so important, why can't Front Street be extended in the first phase?
The main reason is because the extended Front Street roadway will traverse where CitySquare's underground public parking garage is going to be built, and the garage is not scheduled for construction until a later phase. If Front Street were extended to Washington Square in the first phase, it would eventually have to be dug up when it comes time to build the garage.
As to when that garage will be built, who knows?
It's hard to say because that will depend on the developer being able to meet leasing benchmarks called for in the development agreement with the city. Public money for the construction of the underground garage and Front Street will not be released until the developer is able to secure more lease commitments.
And, given the state of the economy and the markets for commercial or residential property, that could be easier said than done - Berkeley Investments Inc., CitySquare's original developer, certainly found that out the hard way.
Meanwhile, it looks like city officials are not expecting the underground garage and the extension of Front Street to occur soon after the project begins.
Of the additional $4 million the city will be receiving from the state for the project through a Growth District Initiative grant - the grant amount will increase from $7.25 million to $11.25 million - city officials want to use $1.1 million to create green space/parkland in the vacant area that will be created after the mall and parts of the parking garage are razed.
One of the reasons for the need to create a temporary green space is to stabilize the area - the city certainly doesn't want piles of dirt left exposed or have a big hole in the ground for an extended period of time. Also, city councilors have suggested that a temporary walkway be created through the site after it is filled in, so there can at least be pedestrian access from Main Street to Washington Square.
Front Street through to Washington Square?
Oh, it's going to happen, but it may not be until some time after next month's CitySquare groundbreaking ceremony.
The most popular perk at Tampa International will probably survive the airport's budget crunch for another year.
Earlier this month, interim executive director John Wheat proposed ending first-hour-free parking in the airport's short- and long-term garages, starting Oct. 1. The change would raise $2.2 million in new revenue in a tight year, he said.
But Wheat changed his mind after talking with his bosses on the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority board and hearing from airport visitors. He will recommend at Thursday's board meeting that members keep the freebie, with a slight change.
Currently, no matter how long you stay in the garage, the first hour is free. Under the proposed new policy, it's free only if you leave before the hour is up. Otherwise, you'll pay $3.
That will generate $440,000 a year for the airport. The rest of the revenue lost by keeping free parking will come from delaying construction projects, such as remodeling the office that serves private plane pilots at Peter O. Knight Airport.
The first-hour-free policy was introduced in 2005, when congestion outside the main terminal tied up traffic and caused friction between drivers and officers.
Wheat said the airport's cell phone lot took pressure off the traffic flow. Between 500 and 700 more cars per day - 35 to 50 in peak hours - would return to the curbs if free parking were eliminated, airport staffers said.
But to Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, the appeal of free parking was giving customers a convenience without any cost.
"It's very convenient if you want to go in and see someone off," she says. "A nice little extra you don't have to pay for at all."
Automobile-addicted Huntsville just became a tad more bicycle friendly.
On Thursday night, a divided City Council approved new rules that will force many future businesses and apartment complexes to provide separate parking for bicycles.
Set to take effect in a few days, the ordinance requires any new business with 20 or more parking spaces to provide bike racks near the entrance. Big box stores with huge parking lots - think Walmart or Target - could have to make room for as many as 30 bicycles.
Future apartment buildings, condos and other multifamily dwellings will need to provide one bike space for every five residences.
Current businesses are grandfathered and don't have to accommodate cyclists unless they expand their parking lots. And because there are no minimum parking requirements downtown, the changes won't apply in the city center.
Local cyclists have been aggressively lobbying Mayor Tommy Battle and city planners for the parking rules, but none came to City Hall for Thursday's public hearing.
In fact, not a single person went to the microphone to comment on the plan.
Councilwoman Sandra Moon asked urban planner Lisa Leddo what local business owners think.
Leddo said she got zero feedback from commercial developers, builders, real estate agents or the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce.
"We feel this is our best fit right now," she said.
But Moon said forcing stores to install bike racks is "an added cost" to doing business in the Rocket City. She voted no, along with Councilman Will Culver.
Council members Bill Kling, Mark Russell and Richard Showers voted for the plan.
After the meeting, Leddo estimated a simple metal bike rack designed to secure two bikes costs between $80 and $100.
Culver said he cycles regularly and agrees with the concept of more bike parking, but not telling business owners where to put the racks.
"I don't think it needs to be right up front," he said.
Also Thursday, the council agreed to pay Wiregrass Construction $1.7 million to repave 34 residential streets in every corner of town. Kling said the work should start in about two weeks and wrap up by Sept. 30, when the city's budget year ends.
A controversial ban on overnight parking in downtown Casper will remain in place for at least another month.
The Casper City Council on Thursday chose to maintain the ban while the Downtown Development Authority explores private parking options for residents living in the area. A divided council rejected suggestions for a temporary amnesty on overnight parking violations while the authority performs the survey.
The ban, which went into effect Aug. 1, has angered some downtown residents, who complain it prevents them from using parking spaces in front of their apartments. They've asked the council to exempt them from the ban, possibly through the use of parking stickers or downtown parking permits.
Council members enacted the parking restrictions after downtown merchants complained they were being hurt by residents who were leaving cars parked overnight near their buildings. The development authority strongly advocated for eliminating overnight parking, said Ward 1 Councilwoman Kate Sarosy, who represents the downtown area.
At the same time, the authority must find a balance between the needs of merchants and the city's desire to encourage people to live downtown, said Ward 3 Councilman Paul Bertoglio.
"They've identified that's what they want to do, but they've also got a conflict in there, if they want residents living in downtown," he said. "We have to resolve the issue."
Ward 1 Councilman Keith Goodenough sought the amnesty measure for downtown residents. He also questioned the need for the restrictions in the first place.
"To me, it doesn't make much sense to make sure the streets are vacant through the evening and through the night," he said. "I don't see what the benefit is of a vacant street when there are people who could benefit from being able to park there."
The problem begins when those cars remain parked into the following day, after businesses open, responded Ward 3 Councilman Maury Daubin.
The council also discussed exempting south David Street from the ban. Much of the opposition to the restrictions has come from residents who live in an apartment building on the coroner of David Street and Midwest Avenue.
However, some council members, including Ward 2 Councilwoman Stefanie Boster, worried an exemption would create parking issues for David Street businesses.
Speaking after the council made its decision, David Street residents insisted their cars would not block access to local merchants. Two nearby businesses, they noted, have private lots.
"We should not be included with the general downtown area," said Darcy Waddles, property manager for the David Street apartments. "There is not a fight for parking there."
The new rules prohibit parking in the downtown business district from 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. daily. The fine for violating the ban is $25.
Since it went into effect, police have written 45 tickets for overnight parking, said police Capt. Chris Walsh. Most of the tickets were issued last weekend.
The overnight restrictions are also needed to allow crews to clean streets and remove snow, according to a copy of the city's parking rules.
Kenny Burkhalter knows the days of wide open spaces at this Reynolds Street lot are numbered.
"It's very easy and convenient to park back here, I've got a car and I like and I don't like door dings it's a nice safe place to park so it's going to be a little more difficult," he said.
The Reynolds Street lot is the site of the new TEE Center parking deck, located across Reynolds from the trade center.
Construction on the four hundred space 10 million dollar garage is scheduled to begin in two weeks.
But between the new deck and the parking lost to the TEE Center the city is losing more than 300 parking spaces in this section of downtown.
"It's going to be a temporary inconvenience 300 places that's going to push people out it's going to have a ripple affect it's going to affect some businesses residents and employees of those businesses," says Barry White of the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau.
To soften the blow the city signed a lease with the state to use the old Golf and Gardens parking lot.
And that's already filling up.
There is more room at the Golf and Gardens in the field next to the lot, but last week the state put a fence up around the field, catching the city by surprise.
"Obviously there is a misunderstanding between myself and the State Properties Commission about the use of that we knew we were using the lot I anticipated being able to use some of that grassy area to," said City Administrator Fred Russell.
It's no surprise the TEE Center is hurting parking downtown, in fact before the commission approved the construction convention officials said to ease the impact on parking the deck needed to be built first, advice city leaders did not follow.
"Ideally yeah you want a place for people to go first before they are displaced, was it practical when everything was said and done no," said White.
Deck construction will take about six months.
A State Properties Commission spokesperson says the agreement with the city is for the use of the lot only at the Golf and Gardens.
She wears a navy-blue uniform pressed to perfection; wrinkles have no business on this garment. Her waistband totes a handheld computer that can spit out a parking ticket in less than 60 seconds. Pink nail polish is the one splash of color Linda James has allowed herself today.
James is 60, a mother of three, and grandmother of six. As a parking-enforcement officer, she carries no weapon. But the sight of her makes grown men stutter and sweat.
Stares follow her on a gray summer morning as she moves through her daily rounds in Belltown, checking car windows for parking-meter receipts.
The violators are many. When they see her approach, they beg, cajole, argue. Anything to worm out of that $39 fine.
"I'm just doing my job," she tells people. "There's a number you can call to contest the citation."
Parking enforcement is the scourge of all dense urban areas. Last year, Seattle's parking-enforcement officers wrote up 508,675 tickets. That's about one a minute.
And it's about to get worse.
The city is pushing pay-to-park stations into neighborhoods, replacing spots that had been free. The number of paid spaces has increased from about 9,000 to about 13,500 in the last six years - a 50 percent jump.
To catch the violators who don't pay or go over the time limit, more enforcers like James are heading into the streets on foot, bicycles and three-wheeled carts.
It's all part of Seattle's larger plan to discourage driving. Land-use codes, for instance, no longer require parking for new buildings downtown or in transit-heavy areas such as the University District. New parking laws and stiffer penalties are supposed to make driving less attractive.
Nevertheless, car owners take their chances - and get nailed again and again. The city, in turn, rakes in the money - a total of $18.4 million last year. That's more than double the operating budget for parking enforcement.
The revenue stream has proved recession-proof. Fines are projected to bring in $21.5 million this year. And next year, nearly $23 million.
The reason, city planners say, is simple: Mass transit isn't considered convenient enough for most people. Driving gives more flexibility, so many are willing to fight it out for a parking spot or circle the block for the closest space.
James sees the strain of the parking crunch play out every day, up close. Parking is valuable - but everyone still wants it on the cheap or for free. So they take risks.
Either drivers choose not to pay, or they buy less time than they use. The gamble pays off if no ticket appears.
When they get caught, the excuses flow.
It's just after noon now, and James approaches a car with no parking receipt at Second Avenue and Bell Street. A well-dressed man runs out of Mama's Mexican Kitchen.
"Excuse me, that's my - " he says. James stands a little straighter. She tilts her head just so.
The man's voice drops several notches. His shoulders slump.
"I went to go in and get some food," he says quietly.
"You have to pay when you park your vehicle."
"I just, I just - "
She listens to all their stories. "Please," she was once told outside Harborview Medical Center. "I've just been diagnosed with cancer." (It worked that time, but James kicked herself later for possibly getting hosed.) Ignorance is another popular claim. "I had no idea," they say.
The man in front of Mama's tries to explain more, but it's no use. James tucks the $39 ticket under his windshield and keeps walking.
Ramping up revenue
Between 2005 and 2009, the number of tickets issued by Seattle parking enforcement jumped 23.5 percent. In that period, revenue from fines went up nearly $3.5 million.
That's in part because the Seattle Department of Transportation started replacing coin meters with more sophisticated pay stations in 2004. (Those fees generated $25.3 million for the city last year.)
The solar-powered machines marked the end of the feed-the-meter era. Officers could more easily monitor times on printed receipts. A maximum time limit of, say, two hours, meant cars had to move after that.
If drivers just stick another receipt on the window, they can still get dinged for overtime parking.
William Edwards, director of parking enforcement, said such restrictions are vital. Parking turnover is key to the city's economy, he said.
Otherwise, cars would camp out in crowded districts such as downtown and Capitol Hill for "hours on end." Businesses would feel the impact - and so would residents.
The pushback on drivers is about trying to shape a new transportation culture, city officials say.
'Paradigm has to shift'
"The paradigm has to shift at some point," said Bryan Stevens, spokesman for the Department of Planning and Development. "People will change their patterns as it becomes more difficult to drive and park. Then there's a tipping point as transportation becomes easier to (access)."
In the meantime, enforcement continues.
As many city departments face budget cuts, parking enforcement is expanding. About 20 new officers have been added since 2008.
A recent ad seeking four full-time officers attracted 700 applicants, Edwards said. Starting salary: around $46,000, plus benefits.
According to the job description, the right candidates are "positive and people-oriented." They must enjoy technology, working outside and maintain a "calm demeanor."
Especially when people lose it.
James has had vicious notes stuck on her cart. People sneer about her filling a parking-ticket quota (there isn't one), and hurl all kinds of insults. "Gestapo" is among the worst, she said.
"I'm sorry, but I don't consider myself a Nazi," she said. "We're just here to serve the public ... so why are you arbitrarily deciding the rules don't apply to you?"
Another man once snarled, "You must really enjoy doing this to people."
She kept her cool. But inside, she said, she was thinking, "Yes, I like my job and I want to do a good job. If you complied with the rules, you'd never meet me."
James came into the job a little naive. When she was hired in 2004, she figured she might not be able to keep the job.
"I thought, 'My god, how am I ever going to be able to write enough tickets to justify my existence?' "
Her perception changed after the first hour.
James has spent a lifetime in other fields.
She's worked in accounting, she's driven a bus. But parking enforcement is it for her. She plans to stay until she hits retirement age, and possibly beyond.
The duties include more than just writing tickets, she says.
She's called on to manage traffic during big events, and help out tourists looking for directions or anyone in trouble on the street.
Now it's 2 p.m. Time to chalk car tires. But today, the city-issued vehicle she's driving doesn't cooperate.
She guns the ignition once more. Then again.
She's stuck on the 2000 block of Second Avenue with a dead battery. If the people she'd ticketed could see her now?
"They'd laugh," she said. "They'd say, 'Oh, you deserve it.' But hey, it happens.
"There are plenty of people who aren't getting tickets now because Linda can't roll."
Perhaps too little, too late, Mayor Tomas Regalado of Miami on Thursday asked the city attorney to look into whether the city could reopen its contract to build a parking garage for the Florida Marlins.
The mayor and at least one county commissioner were prompted by the Marlins' financial records, which were leaked to the Web site Deadspin.com this week.
The figures showed that the Marlins received nearly $92 million in revenue-sharing the past two years and had $33 million in profits during those years.
Regalado and other lawmakers in Miami and Miami-Dade County are upset because they feel the Marlins misrepresented their finances when they asked the city and county to help them build a new stadium on the site of the old Orange Bowl.
Last year, the city and county agreed to pay for roughly three-quarters of the Marlins' $645 million park, which is expected to open for the 2012 season, despite a drop in tax receipts and the loss of hundreds of municipal jobs.
David P. Samson, the president of the Marlins, said the leak of the documents "was a breach of fiduciary obligation and duty by the leaking party." Samson was quoted in The Miami Herald on Thursday saying "a contract is a contract," referring to the team's deal with the county.
Major League Baseball, meanwhile, is trying to find the source of the leak.
In Miami, lawmakers who voted for the deal feel betrayed. Those who opposed it, however, are having a hard time telling their colleagues, "I told you so."
"David Samson did what he had to do," said Carlos Gimenez, one of the four Miami-Dade commissioners who voted against the stadium deal. "Unfortunately, Miami-Dade didn't do what it was supposed to do. Because of the enthusiasm to get this deal done, a lot of prudent steps were not taken. Now, it's coming back to bite them."
The route to a fully charged electric vehicle runs through the parking lot. At least that's the path followed by the Car Charging Group, a Florida-based electric-vehicle service provider that announced on Monday it is teaming up with Icon Parking Systems to install plug-in stations at some of Icon's more than 200 garages and lots in Manhattan. In July, Car Charging Group announced a similar deal with Laz Parking, which has 1,350 facilities in 21 states.
"We're aligning ourselves with where the cars are parked," said Michael Farkas, chief executive of Car Charging Group.
"Recharging times are kind of long, three or four hours, so gas stations seem like the wrong environment for E.V.'s," he said. "What makes more sense are shopping centers, strip malls and parking garages-where the cars are going to be."
Mr. Farkas said that, in many cases, big-box stores, supermarkets and similar businesses do not own the land they occupy, so it makes sense for charging companies to deal with very large institutional real estate owners and operators. "Otherwise, we'd have to go to each individual landowner to get approval," Mr. Farkas said.
Under the arrangement, the Car Charging Group will install, own, maintain and upgrade the charging stations, and the parking facilities will share in the revenue.
Mr. Farkas said charging rates would vary considerably based on
time of day and the different regional costs of electricity, but in
states that allow it, consumers would pay 50 cents a kilowatt-hour.
Charging electric vehicles is not as simple as filling a car with
gas, because some do not allow full discharge or 100 percent
charge. So the phrase "fill 'er up" is somewhat theoretical in
these cases. With only a 16-kilowatt-hour battery, the Chevrolet
Volt would (theoretically) cost $8 for a complete "fill up" at that
rate. But the 24 kilowatt-hour pack in a Nissan Leaf would cost $12
for a zero to 100 percent charge.
According to Andrew Kinard, president of the Car Charging Group, many states do not allow billing by the kilowatt-hour, though that could change. In states with that restriction, the company will charge $3 an hour for charging, he said, which will put cars with slow charging rates at a disadvantage.
The Car Charging Group will install Level 2 (220-240 volts) stations from Coulomb Technologies that can fully charge a vehicle in several hours. Mr. Farkas said the company was also enthusiastic about Level 3 fast charging (440-480 volts) because with half-hour recharge times it can move vehicles through the stations more quickly. "It means we can push kilowatts to cars much faster and make money faster," he said.
The parking operators are enthusiastic. "It's a way to create value for our clients and to get the halo of green technology for our properties," said Michael Barelli, vice president of leasing and development at Laz Parking. "It's an attractive deal for us." He said the company planned to install 100 chargers in the New York-New Jersey area "soon."
Mr. Barelli said electric vehicle chargers would make sense at residential buildings with parking facilities and commuter lots, among other locations.
During a media-only Q&A session held at 2 p.m. Wednesday, city officials discussed details of the newly implemented paid parking plan with various members of the local media.
Besides taking us on a walking tour to demonstrate how the new equipment works, parking and telecommunications manager Sharon Waters said that enforcement officers will begin writing citations on Friday (Aug. 27) instead of just issuing warnings when residents go over on their parking time.
Also, we learned that fayettevilleparking.com has been launched (includes a couple of maps), and that there will be bike racks installed at the lot on the corner of West and Spring so cyclists can lock their bicycles up.
Other than that, there wasn't a whole lot of information that hasn't already been covered over the past ten months.
We did receive an info pack that included some of the maps available at fayettevilleparking.com and some FAQs you might be interested in reading.
After a recent moratorium on parking enforcement, PARKatlanta on Thursday released a new set of parking guidelines based on different parking zones in the city.
The private company the city hired to enforce parking regulations came under fire this year for its rigorous enforcement of parking rules. It now has new time limits and enforcement times based on zoned areas of Atlanta:
■Parking occupied by patrons of business or government offices
with high need for turnover parking
■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 which include both
residential and commercial but do not have onsite parking
■Enforcement days are Monday through Friday
■Enforcement hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
■Parking time limit is three hours
■An area where the majority of parking is occupied by attendees
of post-secondary colleges and/or universities
■Enforcement days are Monday through Saturday
■Enforcement hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
■Parking time limit is three hours
■An area where the majority of parking is occupied by patrons of
theaters, museums, restaurants, other entertainment venues, and
■Enforcement days are Monday through Saturday
■Enforcement hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
■Parking time limit is four hours
No metered on-street parking enforcement will occur on Sundays.
"The new parking enforcement zones will serve to further modernize the city's parking operations to improve convenience, access, fairness, and service for city motorists, residents, businesses, and visitors," said Richard Mendoza, Atlanta Public Works commissioner, in a statement.
Vacant Midtown Memphis
Garage, Motel Could Get New Life
Bill Dries / The Daily News
August 26, 2010
Most who drive by the vacant parking garage at Madison Avenue and Pauline Street aren't even aware there are motel rooms atop the garage.
This week, the building at 969 Madison Ave. got a bit closer to a new life with a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and loan assistance to bring back the motel and parking garage.
It's owned by the Memphis Bioworks Foundation, whose offices are a block away on Dudley.
"We've been trying to wrestle with redeveloping it back into a hotel or, worst case, having to tear it down," said Bioworks executive director Dr. Steven J. Bares. "Having done demolition, I'd really rather redevelop it."
So Bioworks has been working with a hotel developer and has "made a lot of progress on some options," Bares said. They are talking to several hotel brands.
Bares said the decision to keep the hotel was an easy one, given the area.
"Remember you have to really look at that hotel in the context of the whole medical center," he said.
"The medical center doesn't have a good long-term-stay hotel anywhere. So having a hotel adjacent to UT and so close to Methodist Hospital and MERI and approximate to what we're doing would be a real asset to the community."
The HUD grant and the upcoming federal loan application is described by Bares as a critical step in bringing new life to a building long vacant even when nearby Baptist Memorial Hospital was still standing.
The building opened in 1968, according to Assessor's office records, and was a Holiday Inn at one point.
"It's really going to be an anchor for that whole area," said city Housing and Community Development director Robert Lipscomb.
The grant comes through the federal Brownfields Economic Development Initiative (BEDI), which targets abandoned or vacant buildings that have some kind of environmental contamination. The money is used for the cleanup as well as the revitalization of the structure.
Lipscomb said because of the age of the building, there is probably some asbestos that needs to be removed.
The HUD funding means the city of Memphis will seek an additional $4 million loan for the project on the southwest corner of Madison and Pauline.
The motel and parking garage renovation is a $33.8 million project.
"They have a gap in financing the hotel and there's still a gap. So, what we're going to do is also borrow $4 million," Lipscomb said.
The money will be borrowed through what is called a "108 loan." Applying for such a loan is a requirement of getting a BEDI grant.
Lipscomb is looking a bit farther on the map - to the north and the south. He said the area, which includes the University of Tennessee Baptist Research Park, is a link between two new mixed-use developments built on what were once public housing projects - Legends Park and University Place.
Legends Park is being built on what was once the Dixie Homes development. University Place was built on what was once Lamar Terrace.
Baltimore's Board of Estimates has voted to spend more than $580,000 to buy 75 more solar-powered digital parking meters.
Wednesday's vote means the city will have nearly 800 digital meters, called EZ Park meters. Drivers can use coins or credit cards to pay for parking. The meter prints out a small receipt that lists the expiration time, to put on the car's dashboard.
About 55 percent of parking meter transactions are made by credit card.
Tiffany James, spokeswoman for the Parking Authority of Baltimore City, says the digital meters, which will replace coin-operated meters, allow for 10 percent more parallel parking space.
Parking rates in five of the city's most-visited areas, including the Inner Harbor, went up this summer to $2 per hour from $1 per hour.
The disruption that came when a parking deck was built in downtown Libertyville has long faded but a second round of improvements is in the works.
Plans are proceeding for the reconfiguration of the surface lot north of Cook Avenue - behind the village hall and the rear of Milwaukee Avenue businesses - in what has been planned as the tandem project to the $8.7 million parking deck.
Doing both simultaneously was determined to have been too disruptive and expensive for one project, so Part 2 was put on hold.
The 360-space deck was completed about a year ago and village officials say it has been well used, including being at or near capacity during downtown events.
In the interim, the village successfully extended the special financing district downtown beyond its 23-year life, making the estimated $1 million parking improvement possible.
This second part calls for burying all utility lines and reconfiguring the surface lot to allow for two-way traffic from Cook Avenue to Lake Street. A landscaped courtyard and traffic island are included.
"It provides a good flow of traffic all the way through and all the way around," Public Works Director John Heinz said Tuesday during an overview for the village parking commission.
There is a 50-50 chance the work to bury the power lines connected to five utility poles could begin this fall, pending the receipt of information from Com Ed, he added.
"There has been serious concern and desire for those to come down," said commission member Bob Bleck.
Heinz said timing will become an issue because it takes about six weeks for the bid process to proceed through village board approval, and the intent is not to cut power when the weather is too cool or warm.
Removing the existing asphalt and concrete and repaving, forming curbs and installing pavers won't start until next year, likely in mid-June after the annual Libertyville Days festival.
"We can get all that work done in about a two-month time frame," Heinz said. "The work out there is not monumental."
The biggest challenge will involve the timing and location of deliveries by truck to adjoining businesses, which could further disrupt the flow once the work starts, Heinz said.
Several business owners who attended the meeting said they will work with their suppliers, but that a letter from the village limiting delivery times couldn't hurt.
A final design for the work needs to be completed before the village's appearance review and plan commissions consider the matter, likely this winter.
In April 2009, Tahlequah, Oklahoma, city voters approved a half-cent city sales tax proposal that was expected to generate around $8 million.
Of that, a fixed allocation of $350,000 has been dedicated to downtown projects - including development of pedestrian and green-space enhancements, according to Tahlequah Mayor Ken Purdy.
"This was included as part of the community discussion that has been going on since late 2008," said Purdy, who described each individual project as a pedestrian "island."
"Before the election, there were numerous public meetings where this project was addressed," he said.
Jack Mullen and his wife, Andrea, own Sam and Ella's Chicken Palace, at the corner of Muskogee Avenue and Spring Street. Mullen said he'd heard nothing of the project before receiving a letter that outlines construction plans.
The letter, dated Aug. 6, invites merchants to contact Purdy or Assistant City Administrator Kevin Smith with questions or concerns, but Mullen said his calls went unreturned until Monday, Aug. 23.
Mullen said when Purdy did return the call, the mayor didn't give him an opportunity to voice his concerns.
"I think the mayor has done a good job," Mullen said Monday, referring to other downtown enhancements, like Norris Park.
But Mullen said while Norris enhances the area, the new project will damage his business.
Rupe Building Co. of Tulsa will begin the project soon, said Purdy, and should conclude major construction efforts by Nov. 23, before the main holiday shopping season. About eight blocks will be affected in the downtown area, where around two dozen parking spaces will be eliminated and replaced with shrubs, trees and benches.
"For every parking space you take away, you might as well take away one table in my restaurant," said Mullen. "It seems like they would be adding parking instead of removing it."
Mullen, who has operated his pizza restaurant for about a decade, insists he isn't trying to hold up progress downtown.
"Anything we can do to spruce up is wonderful," said Mullen. "But that's not the issue. I have 35 employees and not enough parking as it is."
He said many of his customers are elderly, and already have a difficult time finding a convenient place to park. With fewer spaces, he believes many customers will stop traveling to the area.
Architectural renderings show two of these islands are to be built on the west side of Muskogee Avenue, between Morgan and Spring, which is where Sam and Ella's is located. One of the projects will be right in front of the restaurant.
Mullen also worries the trees could bring in more birds that could leave behind a mess of bird droppings. He said that has happened in other cities where similar downtown enhancements were made. He also fears a tree will block the Sam and Ella's neon sign, which required help from a lawyer for approval.
Purdy said the idea behind the downtown revamping came from nationally recognized image expert Roger Brooks, who conducted a large study and suggested such a project would draw in more people, and ultimately, more money for downtown businesses.
"[Brooks] came in with a fresh set of eyes, was able to look at our downtown, and make recommendations that can appeal to tourism, which we know is an important part of the economy," said Purdy.
Purdy said he regrets some people are upset, but said most downtown business owners have expressed support for the enhancements. A few others, he admits, are "cautious" about the change.
The sales-tax question passed by about a 60-40 margin, said Purdy. During preceding community discussions, there was no specific proposal for what those downtown projects would ultimately look like, he said.
Slated to begin in the coming weeks, the project will stretch along Muskogee Avenue from Chickasaw Street to Goingsnake Street. It will begin on the north end and work south, Purdy said, with no lane closures expected.
In all, 22 construction sites will be scattered along the stretch, on both the east and west sides of main street. Most will replace one parking space, while a couple of other islands will be larger, taking the place of two parking spaces.
Purdy said the downtown corridor currently has more than 225 parking spaces, or about 30 per block, which will mean about a 10 percent loss of spaces. But he also said in his years as mayor, the city has added over 70 parking spaces to provide direct access to downtown, though they aren't on Muskogee Avenue itself.
"We feel like it's going to have a direct economic benefit to the city," said Purdy. "I am deeply committed to improvements in the downtown area. It's meaningful and important to us that the improvements have value and ultimately reflect a benefit to the heart of Tahlequah."
Purdy said as construction begins, the city and contractor will do their best to be sensitive to the needs of merchants. Crews will work on one island at a time and "confine their workspace to the smallest footprint possible."
Parking - free parking, meter parking, back-in parking, resident parking, no parking, too much parking - you name it, and just about anything to do with parking will get people fired up.
In Pottstown, the issue this week was that after about 18 months of non-existent parking enforcement, the meter police were back. And the "advance notice" promised by borough officials a week ago was not provided before the newly hired enforcers started training.
Within hours of the first tickets being written, commentary at www.pottsmerc.com, among other places, was full of heated opinion about parking.
In May, Phoenixville endured a similar storm of protest when the parking authority unveiled a new parking plan for the downtown area. The plan instituted $1 an hour parking in downtown lots from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and limited parking on streets to two hours.
"Part of the problem is that residents and merchants are parking on the streets in front of their apartment or store and not moving all day," then parking authority director Barry Cassidy explained at the time. "This gives the illusion of the town being filled with customers, but instead it dissuades customers from coming to town because of the lack of convenient parking."
Part of Phoenixville's parking plan provided spaces in other lots at a rental fee to downtown residents and employees.
The objections were fast and furious: Permit spaces were too far from apartments for residents; parking in lots was too expensive for employees; and free parking in lots from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. only benefited those residents who work within those hours and don't need to use the spaces.
In Pottstown, the complaints start with the inconvenience to downtown employees and residents and escalate to the lack of wisdom in charging for parking when mall lots are free.
But seriously, how many shoppers in downtown Pottstown spend more than the two hours allowed free at High Street meters? The shopping argument is really a smokescreen for the fact that downtown employees are stuck feeding meters or walking a few blocks to side streets.
The parking arguments and the teapot tempest over metered parking all boils down to convenience. Most people want to park as close as possible to their destination and stay put for the duration of their work day or visit or appointment. That's human nature. But residents and officials and workers should stop pretending free parking is needed for the greater good.
Free parking is not the answer to economic development; although, available parking is important. Free parking is not a right guaranteed by law or religion.
Free parking is just a nice thing to have when you can get it. Now that the free ride in Pottstown is over, we should remember that and be happy it lasted as long as it did.
Students who headed back to school this week at Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis were worried about more than simply finding their classes.
The ongoing parking crunch on campus is of concern for students at the growing school, 6News' Julie Pursley reported, but IUPUI has implemented several improvements this year.
The school has expanded parking in two additional lots off 16th Street at the old Bush Stadium, and there are more campus shuttle buses and a new parking garage, accounting for more than 1,000 new parking spots.
With more than 30,000 students back at school, parking on campus has been a challenge for years.
"It was horrible. I would have to stalk people down in the parking lots just to get a parking spot," said student Jesse Wilson.
But most students said finding a spot Tuesday morning was much easier than it used to be.
"It was really easy for me, just went right into the parking garage," said student Nick Behney.
IUPUI added a new fleet of six large transit buses that will shuttle students continuously every 10 minutes from 6 a.m. through 10 p.m. on campus and to satellite parking lots.
"We don't want parking to be the main thing that sticks in students minds the first couple of weeks of school," said Richard Schneider, IUPUI spokesman. "We've done everything we can to make parking as easy as possible."
Thirty volunteers are directing people to available lots and parking spaces for the next few weeks, and students can access real-time parking updates on Twitter and Facebook.
Kansas University mo-ped users can say goodbye to rock star parking.
At the start of classes last week, students and staff were greeted with 262 mo-ped parking spaces scattered in 28 parking lots throughout campus. Those opting to park their mo-peds in bike racks or in motorcycle zones were likely to find warning tickets on them.
Among those ticketed was fourth-year KU business student Andrew Sigler. Running late to his first day of class, Sigler parked his mo-ped in the bike rack behind Budig Hall.
When he came out, he had a $20 ticket.
"I bought this simply so I could drive to campus, park close to my class and walk in," Sigler said. "But obviously now that is not going to be as easy. So I'll have to find other ways to get to class on time."
The new parking regulations follow a rising wave of mo-peds on KU's campus. Two years ago, 178 mo-ped permits were purchased at KU. Data isn't available for the 2009-2010 school year yet. But with classes barely under way, more than 60 permits have already been issued for mo-peds this semester.
Along with being easier to park, mo-peds are incredibly fuel efficient and come with a $15 annual parking permit - compared with vehicle permits that can range from $90 to $285.
"People are looking for different ways to get to campus, and the buses have helped out quite a bit. But a lot of people have turned to these alternative methods of transportation. And mo-peds are one of them," said Donna Hultine, director of KU Parking & Transit.
Until now, mo-peds could travel along Jayhawk Boulevard, which has restricted access during the day. Another significant perk was parking at bike racks that sit next to many entrances.
"Parking close to the building is probably one of the biggest reasons I ride a mo-ped. That and the much cheaper parking pass rate," said Courtney Foat, a mo-ped driver who for two years was able to park right behind Watson Library where she works.
On the first day of class, Foat rode her mo-ped down the street to the Kansas Union for coffee. She pulled up right beside the bike rack just a few steps away from the door.
"It's a luxury," she said.
Others see it as more of a nuisance. With the rising number of mo-peds comes increasing conflict with pedestrians and motorcyclists.
Last fall at the school's annual open hearing on parking issues, a major theme was mo-ped parking, Hultine said.
Among the complaints was that mo-ped drivers were parking in motorcycle zones in a way that made it hard for motorcycles to park there. To navigate to the bike rack, many mo-ped users were driving on sidewalks, forcing pedestrians to jump out of the way. The mo-peds were also taking up a significant amount of room at the bike racks and spreading onto the lawn.
"It was this perfect storm of all these things," Hultine said.
The challenge for the parking department was finding a way to create new parking for mo-peds without taking away spots for motorcycles.
That had the department scouring campus for slivers of land that wasn't already in parking. They also converted 112 car-parking spaces into mo-ped-parking spaces. In all, 262 mo-ped spaces were made available.
Hultine knows the change won't be popular with many. Those who drive cars aren't happy that valuable parking spots are being taken up by mo-peds. And mo-ped users can't park close to the building any more.
"We are trying to take all the feedback we are getting, and we are taking it really seriously," Hultine said.
She noted the parking changes were made with paint and moveable signs, so nothing is set in stone.
"I would say we are going to be tweaking this on the fly as we learn more information," Hultine said.
In a bold move that heralds Tennessee's advance in 'Green Technology' firsts, a Pulaski firm has installed the state's first parking area solar panel power generating and recharging system. The facility is best describes as a shaded carport with solar panels forming the roof. Its twenty kilowatt solar panel array can power four homes.
Pulaski has joined the state's march towards 'Green Technology' innovation with the launch of the state's first solar panel recharging power station. Transforming a carport into a mini power plant, Richland Manufacturing, LLC, is lighting the way for the future of parking lots. Jim Greene, Richland president, said this project is an example of how "American small business and manufacturing are growing in the new 'green economy.'"
The solar panel system is the product of Outpost Solar, LLC, which built the facility. The carport-like structure has a capacity for twelve cars. Marking the future of parking lots, these facilities will allow property owners to maximize previously unutilized space and generate power and revenue.
"You can park twelve cars under it," said Wilson Stevenson, president of Outpost Solar, LLC. The company plans to build two larger facilities for businesses in Pulaski and Knoxville. Those facilities will have capacity for thirty cars. The facilities are charging stations for electric vehicles and will generate electricity which will be sold to TVA.
The components are American-made in this project involving the state of Tennessee, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Pulaski Electric System and the Tennessee Valley Authority. The power generating charging system will only produce electricity at this time. These types of facilities will be in great demand for the new generation of electric cars expected to come onto the market, namely the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt which are expected to be available in 2011. Currently, there is no car charging service in operation.
Charging station network is vital
"A network of ready charging stations like this first one in Pulaski are important to the cars' success," Stevenson said. They could also help reduce TVA's costly peak demand power production costs by providing electricity to offset an electric car's need during summer days when air conditioners are in high use and energy demands are critical. At times of highest demand, TVA resorts to more costly sources of electricity, which ultimately costs all ratepayers.
Starting Monday, the Town of Chapel Hill is field testing two electronic models of parking meters that could change the way you park downtown.
The multi-space meters are on the 100 and 300 blocks of Franklin Street, and will accept credit cards as well as coins. Some machines will also accept bills as payment. A posting on the Town of Chapel Hill website indicates that the two models being tested carry a price tag of between $8,000 and $10,000 each.
The trial period is scheduled to run for three months, during which time the Town of Chapel Hill is hoping to get public feedback about the ease of use and effectiveness of the machines. A survey will be posted on the Town of Chapel Hill website, offering a reward of free parking for those patrons who fill out the survey.
Plano's City Council tabled an ordinance Monday that would prohibit vehicles from being parked too close to mailboxes.
Meant to curtail complaints from residents and mail carriers, the measure would forbid vehicles from being parked within 10 feet of a mailbox. But the panel tabled the measure to further discuss the rule, which is certain to stir debate.
Plano police would not enforce the ordinance unless they receive a complaint. Federal regulations already prohibit mailboxes from being blocked.
Although downtown Covina has plenty of parking, many of the best spots are used by shop employees, according to a recent study commissioned by the city.
A firm recently surveyed parking trends from the railroad tracks near Front Street south to Badillo Street. The study found that employees of downtown businesses park in two-hour parking spots and then use break times to move their cars to new spots.
"Presence of parking enforcement is evident throughout downtown Covina, however, many vehicles were moved around throughout the day to avoid parking violations," the study found.
While many people in the area skirted the rules, there is still plenty of parking in downtown - 4,077 stalls in all.
Even at peak hours, only about half of the stalls are filled, according to data.
The study also found that Covina is heavily subsidizing the 795 spots in city-owned lots, spending about $70,000 more on maintenance than it takes in.
That comes to a loss of about $90 per stall each year, according to the study.
The city is hosting community meetings regarding the study on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.
Bakery clerk Christine Pasinelli said the city had too much timed parking.
"Knowing you can only park for two hours stresses people out," said Pasinelli, who has worked at Joslin's Bakery on Citrus Avenue for eight years.
The time limits discourage people from taking time to stop by businesses, she said.
"People should not be on a time limit when they are down here," she said. "Let the people shop comfortably. Let them enjoy the day."
In general, parking on streets is limited to two hours.
Parking in city lots is free for the first three hours and then $1 for the rest of the day.
Parking is also free before 9 a.m., after 6 p.m. and on the weekends.
City officials are anxious to show the data to business owners, they said.
"You have competing and conflicting interests," Public Works Director Steve Henley said. "One group is saying, `We need more parking in the evening,' and someone else is saying, `No, there's plenty in the evening, we need more in the day."'
He hopes to get everyone together to hash out a decent plan that takes into account concerns from the community, he said.
"This is a way of determining what is really happening," Henley said. "We'll be sitting down with factual, empirical data."
With downtown Rapid City gearing up for three major construction projects, city and development officials are looking for ways to ease the resulting temporary parking crunch.
The projects will result in a net gain in parking, but in the meantime, 213 spaces will be tied up for about a year and a half.
Possible solutions include the city leasing private lots for public use, adding metered parking spots to the Sixth Street ramp, and providing a free shuttle service to parking at the Civic Center.
There will also be more signs directing people to free evening and weekend parking spaces.
The projects are focused along Sixth Street between Omaha and Kansas City streets.
Destination Rapid City hopes to break ground in October on a project to turn the parking lot at Sixth and Main streets into the Main Street Square public plaza, which will eliminate 71 parking spaces.
Also, reconstruction of Sixth Street from Omaha Street to Kansas City Street will start this fall, temporarily tying up some street parking. The portion between Omaha and Main streets will wrap up by the end of the year, and work through St. Joseph Street will be finished by Memorial Day.
Finally, developers said this week they hope to break ground in January or February on the block-long Presidents Plaza retail and commercial project along St. Joseph Street between Fifth and Sixth streets. That project will temporarily eliminate 142 city parking spaces, but when it is finished mid-2012, it will have 350 public spaces, a net gain of 137 spaces between that lot and the lot at Sixth and Main streets.
In the meantime, "Parking is absolutely an issue we need to address," Mayor Alan Hanks said.
He said the city will take the 57 parking meters out of the lot at Sixth and Main streets and move them to the second level of the Sixth Street parking ramp, where there are spots that aren't being leased. That will provide short-term parking for people who want to shop during the day or who work part-time downtown.
He said the city may also lease private lots for public use, as it did when the Sixth and Main streets ramp was closed when the city added a third story recently.
And Dan Senftner, president of Destination Rapid City, said his group could work with the city to provide free shuttle service to parking at the Civic Center, where there are plenty of spots open most of the year.
If people who work downtown are willing to walk or ride the short distance from the Civic Center, "That can eliminate 200 cars real fast," he said.
He called the parking issue a "temporary snag" on the way to significant investment in improving the downtown.
"Let's not look at this as an inconvenience, let's look at this as an opportunity," he said.
Athens-Clarke County issued a permit Friday to start work on a new mixed-use downtown parking deck.
The county government will close on a final agreement with private developer Batson-Cook of Atlanta by Sept. 20, Athens-Clarke Manager Alan Reddish said. The Athens-Clarke Commission pre-emptively approved the contract at a called meeting Thursday.
Batson-Cook will build the seven-story deck at the corner of Washington and Lumpkin streets and will lease the first-floor retail space and top-floor office space. The company had trouble finding tenants and securing financing for the project, which delayed it by several months.
The Athens Downtown Development Authority will own and operate the deck's 520 parking spaces.
Under the public-private partnership, Batson-Cook will fund a third of the $17 million project. Earmarked sales tax revenue approved by voters in 2004 will cover another third, and the remainder will be paid for with parking fees.
The city of Indianapolis picks Xerox affiliate ACS to operate its public parking system.
The team, including Denison Global Parking and Evens Time, was selected from 16 bids as the proposed operator of the city's meters, garages and lots.
The plan would result in a $35 million upfront payment with estimated revenues to Indianapolis totaling more than $400 million over the course of the 50-year agreement.
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard says the money would go directly toward infrastructure improvements. He identifies the construction of a parking garage in Broad Ripple as a potential project funded by the deal.
The plan would bump up parking meter rates to $1.50 per hour in some areas by 2012. If approved by the Indianapolis City-County Council, that would mark the first increase since 1975.
ACS is also promising to create 200 new jobs as part of the deal.
Until her father, Bruce, passed away last fall, Jeanette Kuchler treasured the Saturdays they would spend together at the Naperville Farmers Market and the peaches and corn they would bring home.
The Naperville Central High School junior has captured those memories to share with the entire city through her centerpiece in the mural being painted in the fifth floor elevator waiting area of the downtown Van Buren parking garage.
Still about a week away from being complete, Jeanette said she hopes her piece will remind folks to take time out of their lives to enjoy the simple things with their loved ones.
"We would walk together and he loved to bring home the fresh peaches," she said Wednesday afternoon. "I'm just trying to capture those memories to share with everyone who will enjoy this project."
KidsMatter, a nonprofit organization charged with empowering youth and families with tools to effectively manage the stresses of everyday life, was awarded a $5,000 grant from Naperville's Century Walk Corp. last year to work with artist Timm Etters to create a Naperville-themed Way Finding System and murals to enliven the Van Buren garage.
Since 1993, Etters, has painted 59 murals in and around Naperville Unit District 203 and Indian Prairie Unit District 204 schools.
"These kids have all grown up with my murals in their schools and now we get to work together to make this happen," Etters said in the fifth floor west elevator waiting center. "It's really awesome."
Because students are only allowed to work on the mural outside of school as an independent study class, the fifth floor will be completed by the end of August. The lower floors will be done two at a time during the following two summers by students at the Naperville area's four other high schools.
The design theme for each of the five parking levels will be based on the colors and mascots of one of the five public high schools - North, Central, Waubonsie Valley, Neuqua Valley and Metea Valley. Each group of students will develop a theme around their choice of several developmental assets, or qualities that influence choices young people make and help them become caring, responsible adults.
The Central students chose to paint their favorite constructive use of their time.
Senior Nicole Pellegrini pays homage to forest preserves with her piece, saying they are aspects of her community she feels connected to. Immediately next to her, senior Wendy Wei is painting a highly detailed downtown scene with her family in the forefront enjoying ice cream.
"This is how I'll continue to enjoy my time with family before heading away to college," she said. "There's a lot of great ice cream (shops) in Naperville and I've made constructive use of my time finding them."
Other scenes depicted in the mural include a portrait of the Millennium Carillon Tower, a Redhawks baseball game and the Redhawk mascot flying high in the sky, which is being painted by Etters and his assistant Caitlyn White.
"I'm very proud of these kids showing up every day and what they've accomplished, often working in 104-degree (heat) last week," Etters said. "Their pieces are so great that for the first time my piece will merely be an accent to someone else's work. And that's very cool."
All five floors are scheduled to be completed by the end of the summer of 2012 and will be added to the city's collection of Century Walk outdoor public art pieces.
Within the next two weeks the Johnson County Community College may have the most environmentally green parking lot in the metro area.
There is enormous parking areas at the Overland Park college to accommodate the more than 20,000 part-time and full-time students enrolled this fall.
These acres of pavement generate a huge volume of dirty runoff during a storm. Much of that water ultimately flows into Indian Creek south of the campus.
Last year the college board of trustees approved a project on the southeast area of the campus to slow the flow of the runoff and clean it at the same time.
It uses a system of bio-retention cells, bio-swales and a submerged wetland where depressions in the ground capture and retain runoff enabling the engineered soils and plant roots to absorb and filter the water before re-entering the concrete storm system.
"By adding these different units throughout the parking lot we're able to reduce sediment in the water by 90 percent and reduce some of the chemicals, including petro-hydrocarbons by 80 percent," said Scott Bingham, the landscape architect at Bowman Bowman Novick Inc.
He said students this fall will be able to sample the quality of the water before it goes through the system and compare it with the quality at the end of the process.
A small series of rock ledges will act at classroom seating for biology students on the edge of the 24,300-square-foot south retention basin.
The college received a $867,000 federal stimulus grant to pay for the project as well as another $100,000 from a student-funded green fee.
Slowing the speed of the runoff is important for residential areas south of the college. For years the runoff from the four large parking lots on the Johnson County Community College campus sent a cascade of water into a large drainage system under the Kimberly Downs subdivision.
Homeowners said they watched twice as the force of the water blew out a section of that drainage system. Bingham said the improvements to the parking lot should significantly reduce that problem.
The plants that will absorb some of the water include Indian seaoats grass, prairie dropseed, cardinal flowers, little blue stem grass and blue flag iris.
At one of the bio-retention cells, a new product was installed that "wicks" water down to an underground piping system. A pervious concrete walkway will encircle the south basin and allow rain to soak through the concrete rather than become runoff.
Bingham said the retention basin, which will act as a submerged wetland, is designed so the water won't stagnate. For most of the year, he said this area will appear dry. During a rain event, it will fill up but won't remain that way for very long.
As the demand for bicycle parking outstrips the supply, Sound Transit has decided to spend $464,000 in federal grants to add 173 lockers and 25 racks during the next two years.
The new bicycle-parking options will be built not only at Link light-rail stations but also at other transit centers, the agency said Wednesday.
Perhaps the most ambitious site is Columbia City Station, which will get 46 more lockers and an eight-bike rack next year. That light-rail stop, six blocks from a reviving neighborhood business district, is a classic example of a setting where bicycling could attract train riders from beyond the typical quarter- to half-mile radius.
Currently, there are 201 bike lockers in the three-county area, with 57 people on waiting lists, said Bruce Gray, Sound Transit spokesman. The longest waiting list is 19 people at Kent Station.
Additions are planned at bus or train stops in Auburn, Columbia City, DuPont, Federal Way, Kent, Lynnwood, Mercer Island, Othello, Rainier Beach, South Everett and South Hill (Puyallup). To lease a locker costs $50 a year, plus a $50 deposit.
Bikes also are allowed onto Sound Transit trains, but sometimes there are space conflicts with standing riders on Sounder commuter lines, or with airport travelers' luggage on the Link route.
Meanwhile, the agency is considering whether to boost automobile parking for Link by speeding up construction of the South 200th Street park-and-ride station to 2016, instead of 2020. But money is short, due to recession and lower sales-tax income. Parking expansions also are promised at some Sounder stations, in a voter- approved 2008 ballot measure.
The local bike-parking improvements cost taxpayers more than $1,200 per space - but that's still far below auto parking. Sound Transit spent about $37,500 per stall in the 2008 Mercer Island park-and-ride rebuild.
The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to solicit private bids to run 10 city-owned parking garages.
L.A.'s City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana has said he hopes to negotiate a $50 million lump sum payment from any company that would operate the parking garages, plus a percentage of annual revenues. The lease would run 50 years.
L.A. desperately needs the money
The city seeks to avert more layoffs and to address a $320 million deficit in the next fiscal year. Santana's said the city may be forced to lay off as many as 1,000 more employees if it can't find someone to take over 10 parking facilities, including those at Hollywood and Highland and Pershing Square, and one in Van Nuys.
The city council voted 9 to 3 in favor of seeking a private operator. Opponents warned that privatizing parking garages may result in higher parking fees.
A portion of that lump sum - $53.2 million - would be used to pay for employee salaries and other expenses in the current fiscal year.