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Mt. Lebanon commissioners last night voted to dissolve the 54-year-old independent authority running the municipality's parking lots, meters and garages, with the goal of absorbing all its functions into the municipal government by the end of 2011.
The 3-2 vote directed municipal Solicitor Phil Weis to work with the Mt. Lebanon Parking Authority board on plans to cease parking authority operations no later than Dec. 31, 2011. The decision came after the authority had rejected another offer that would keep it as a separate entity, but would move it into the municipal building and merge some of its support services with the municipality.
"It just seemed in the end that there were too many impediments to continuing to operate as two separate entities," said commissioner Dave Brumfield. "The financial gains through consolidation far outweigh the losses."
Absorbing most of the authority's employees and starting them at square one in the municipal retirement program would actually have a net cost of about $57,000 per year, according to former board president Alfonso Frioni, Jr., who resigned last month citing the stresses of the consolidation debate. But the commissioners supporting consolidation were confident they could find other fat to trim in the parking budget.
WallyPark Premier Airport Parking will open a new state-of-the-art parking facility near Sea-Tac International Airport on Monday, Nov. 15.
The garage includes over 1,500 covered and uncovered parking spaces, and provides travelers with both valet and self-parking options. The new building also features 16,000 square feet of retail space, including restaurants and service businesses that will provide additional amenities for travelers and local customers.
A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held Nov. 10 for the project.
"This new mixed-use development increases the retail, service, and dining opportunities for residents, employees and travelers in the City of SeaTac," said Jeff Robinson, interim assistant city manager. "We are pleased that new quality development continues to add to the diversity of our community and the expansion of jobs and tax revenues in the city."
With the addition of the new premier garage, WallyPark will increase its presence in the SeaTac area, where it has operated two parking operations-- WallyPark Valet and WallyPark Self Park-- since 2003.
"We are pleased to bring a new standard of airport parking to the Puget Sound area," said Charles Bassett," WallyPark's Chief Operating Officer. "Our third location represents our long-term commitment to providing travelers with a convenient, world class parking experience."
Located adjacent to Sea-Tac International Airport on International Boulevard, the WallyPark premier garage stands tall with an attractive glass facade, a unique water feature, and generous landscaping that enhances the look of International Boulevard as the gateway to SeaTac.
WallyPark's brand of airport parking offers car care services including auto washing/detailing, window tinting and oil changes. As an added value, air travelers can also enroll in the WallyClub Frequent Parker program - providing members with exclusive savings, discounts and benefits.
The project was designed by International Parking Design of Los Angeles, and was constructed by PCL Construction of Bellevue. The retail space is being leased by First Western Properties of Tacoma.
The budget for the city's proposed MBTA parking garage has been slashed by $15 million as the size of the facility has shrunk from 950 to 800 cars, under a preliminary state plan made public yesterday.
In addition, one of the most dramatic elements, a vehicle and pedestrian ramp from Washington Street to the commuter rail station, which many saw as a critical second entrance, has been eliminated in the "final scope report" from the MBTA.
Despite the 33 percent cut by the cash-strapped state, city officials remain enthusiastic about the plan and its progress.
"We're really excited this project is moving forward," Mayor Kim Driscoll said. "It's been 30 years in the making."
State Rep. John Keenan called the current $30 million garage proposal a "realistic beginning concept given the budget constraints."
Both officials, who have been meeting with T representatives for months, said the current plan still includes the key design element residents wanted: a so-called "full high platform" that will eliminate the need to climb stairs to the train platform.
They also noted that the garage will include many amenities for riders, notably a heated and air-conditioned lobby that is twice as large as an initial concept and located closer to the platform than originally planned. There also will be a long canopy to protect commuters from the elements.
Although the garage appears to lack design elements reflecting the historic seaport, which was high on the city's wish list, the structure is not entirely concrete, Keenan said. The facility has large sections of brick at its corners.
In one of the most significant changes, the garage has been scaled back. It has gone from a six-story facility for about 950 cars to five levels and 800 cars.
The good news, officials said, is that Salem remains high on the list of MBTA garage projects. It was the third-busiest commuter rail station in the T system in 2008, with an average of 2,500 daily commuters, according to the MBTA.
Beverly is also high on that same list, with design work currently under way for its T garage.
The state agency said it hopes to do design work and complete environmental reviews on the Salem project next year and start construction late in 2011. A public meeting will be held but has not been scheduled yet, the mayor said.
While calling this report "great news," Driscoll acknowledged that the state must address the single entrance and exit from Bridge Street and the elimination of the Washington Street ramp. There may be a chance to do that, she said, as part of planned road improvements for the section of Bridge Street from the downtown to Flint Street, the last section of the bypass road project.
"I'm concerned about the exit and entry," she said. "... We don't want to design something that is dysfunctional. We have to ask them to take another look at that."
News that the state was cutting Salem's budget did not come as a total surprise. Both Keenan and Driscoll said they realize a $45 million parking garage, which has been on the table up to this point, was probably not realistic.
"The state does not have an unlimited supply of funding," the mayor said. "I think we're really happy this project is still in the mix."
At the same time, however, Driscoll said she hopes some elements can be put back into the garage as design and budget work move forward.
The city of Santa Fe is moving toward adding $1 to the cost of parking in the Sandoval Parking Garage after 6 p.m. and giving the extra money to the Lensic Performing Arts Center across West San Francisco Street.
The Public Works Committee on Monday unanimously endorsed an amended version of a resolution proposed by Mayor David Coss and Councilor Rebecca Wurzburger that would direct staff to take steps toward the additional $1 parking fee - expected to raise about $25,000 a year.
Former Mayor Larry Delgado, now a member of the Lensic board of directors, spoke about how the Lensic opened as a movie theater in 1931, fell into disrepair, then was reopened as a nonprofit performing-arts venue in 2001.
"Not only does it help the other (nonprofit) organizations throughout Santa Fe, but it also brings people down to Santa Fe, down to the city, so the business community in those areas benefit from what's happening at the Lensic," Delgado said. "The way I understand it, the only time (the extra $1 parking fee) would be collected is when there is something happening at the Lensic, which is just about every night. ... When there is a function at the Lensic, 90 percent of the cars that are parked in the structure across the street are there to see the performance, so it's something that benefits the whole city."
Councilor Chris Calvert noted that the proposed resolution does not say that the fee would only be collected when there is a performance at the Lensic. He moved to have this added to the resolution, even though Joe Schepps, a Santa Fe businessman who serves on the Lensic board, said that might prove to be a "bookkeeping nightmare."
Councilor Rosemary Romero noted that some "over-the-top" performances fill up not only the Sandoval garage but also the Water Street Parking Lot. She moved to amend the ordinance so that staff could look into adding the extra $1 fee at the Water Street lot for "overflow" Lensic crowds.
But Calvert, who sponsored the motion to recommend approval of the resolution, said Romero's proposal would over-complicate the idea.
"Let's do one step at a time here," he said. "Let's do the Sandoval garage. If things work out there, we'll visit that down the road. For right now, let's just take one bite, not two."
The city of Missoula is experimenting with 36 high-tech, solar-powered parking meters that accept credit cards to find out if they can replace decades-old meters for which parts are no longer made.
Missoula Parking Commission Director Anne Guest says the meters were put in a month ago on North Higgins Avenue and are on trial until the end of the year.
She tells The Missoulian that if they don't work out for the city, they will be boxed up and sent back.
She says the meters have some advantages because they take credit cards and the rates can be changed.
But she says credit card companies charge 13 cents for each swipe, and sometimes coins get jammed.
Guest says the cost of the meters isn't fixed, and she will negotiate a price based on the size of the order if the city decides to buy the high-tech meters.
Parking meter funds may not be able to generate revenue for Columbia's general fund. The 10 level parking tower located at Fifth and Walnut streets may initially cost the fund more money. The city borrowed $13 million in 2009 to pay for the tower.
In 25 years, the debt will total $21.4 million with payments evening out to $1.1 million in 2022. With current parking rates and occupancy at 100 percent, the tower will get $762,684 a year.
Mayor Bob McDavid has proposed parking meter funds be added to the general fund, but the tower will initially put costs on the fund. The city does not want to discourage people from parking at meters or businesses buying permits with higher rates. The Special Business District Board will meet on Tuesday to discuss possibilities with meter revenue.
Parking meters are the next stop for government photo surveillance.
Boulder is planning to start a photo parking enforcement system in which parking officers use a vehicle-mounted camera to record license plates as the officer drives by. The information is automatically fed into a computer that is pre-programmed with a database containing the list of scofflaws.
If there is a match, the officer can stop and call a tow truck.
The Boulder County chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has taken issue with the surveillance. The ACLU says the photo enforcement is invasive and could be used for investigations unrelated to parking rules. The images will be kept for two years.
The city insists the parking photos are similar to video radar and red-light cameras.
Assistant Parking Manager Eric Guenther told 7NEWS that there are 7,000 people listed on the city's parking scofflaw list.
"If we can capture 10 percent, that would be about 700 tickets or 700 vehicles," Guenther said. "We're looking at close to $83,000."
Guenther said it's money that's already owed to the city and the cameras represent a way to collect it.
Guenther added that the system being purchased by the city, for $46,000, will have the capability or tracking motorists who exceed the time limit downtown or in neighborhoods where a parking permit is required.
But Guenther said that for the time being, the focus will be on people who are failing to pay their tickets.
Throwing down the gauntlet to the City Council, Mayor Mike McGinn says if a 5 percent commercial parking tax isn't approved the pedestrian and bike master plans couldn't be implemented, there'd be no money to help keep neighborhood traffic operations safe, no funds to maintain or install traffic meters and the city couldn't chip in to replace the now closed South Park Bridge.
City Council President Richard Conlin complained last month that McGinn was not being true to his word when he said he'd work with the legislative branch during budget discussions.
Facing a $67 million deficit, McGinn made cuts but also proposed increasing the commercial parking tax and making people pay a lot more to park on city streets - among other fee hikes - to balance the books. The Council has indicated they're unlikely to approve many of these new fees and Conlin had asked for a priorities list from the mayor's office - basically a list of further cuts to transportation to take the place of the tax increases. McGinn had refused, saying his proposed 2011 budget outlined his priorities.
Late Friday McGinn said on his city blog that he has now told the council which projects would be affected if the parking tax is rejected.
"The Council has questioned my budgetary priorities," McGinn wrote. "When I developed my proposed budget I was faced with a baseline budget that made it hard to cover the basics, much less add any extras. So I looked for new sources of revenue to pay for this mix of basic infrastructure, and biking and walking investments.
Among the things McGinn says will be on the chopping block next year:
• $1.7 million for the Bike Master Plan.
• $1.5 million for the city's annual share to replace the South Park Bridge, which closed June 30. Businesses in the area say commerce is down by as much as 50 percent. The new bridge, to be paid for with a combination of federal, county and city money, isn't expected to be done until 2013.
• $900,000 for the Pedestrian Master Plan.
• $252,000 for paid parking maintenance and instillation.
• $261,000 for street cleaning.
• $148,000 for Neighborhood Traffic Services, a program that deals with complains about traffic speeds and helps install things like traffic circles to slow vehicles down.
• $28,000 for red light photo enforcement.
The City Council has the final say on budget matters. The members are faced with tough decisions. Raising fees during a recession is not popular with businesses, who complain the move would hurt them badly. But the bike/walk plan has a vocal constituency as well. Also, other governments will howl if Seattle backs out of its commitment to help pay to replace the South Park Bridge.
After several weeks of hearings the City Council is expected to pass a final spending plan later this month.
In 1981, Alan Lazowski spotted a way to make some money the summer before his senior year of college: start a valet parking service for a restaurant on Asylum Street in downtown Hartford.
He borrowed $3,000 from his grandfather, hired four valets and parked cars for Frank's Restaurant, where Max Downtown is today. Soon, Lazowski signed other nearby restaurants. By the end of the summer he had five locations and 30 employees.
He never went back to the University of Connecticut
Today, Lazowski's summer venture has blossomed into LAZ Parking, the fourth-largest parking company in the country and, by most measures, the fastest growing, with 1,300 locations, 425,000 parking spaces and $500 million in annual parking receipts.
Lazowski, 50, has joined forces with some of the titans of Wall Street, including Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan Chase to finance some huge deals - including the first-ever, controversial privatization of city-owned parking in the U.S., in Chicago.
Now, Lazowski and his company are at the center of a national debate over the merits of privatization, in which cities give up the rights to collect parking revenue in exchange for an upfront payment they can use to solve budget woes.
Last month, the city council in Pittsburgh rejected an agreement under which LAZ and its Wall Street partners would have paid $452 million for parking rights for 50 years. The council agreed with consumer advocates, who say such deals lead to windfalls for the private firms and loss of control for the cities.
LAZ still has its eye on Los Angeles, Indianapolis and Hartford - and the council in Pittsburgh could reconsider.
Frank's Restaurant in downtown Hartford is long gone, closed when the building the restaurant occupied was razed to make way for the CityPlace I tower in the 1980s.
Lazowski is still known to park cars on occasion, but LAZ is now far-flung - with 6,000 employees in 21 states and a dozen regional offices. That is making it tough to maintain the small company culture the business was founded on.
"For us, the challenges as we grow are to make sure that we retain the proper training and values and culture that we have established," Lazowski said. "That's our No. 1 objective in our success. As you grow with locations and employees, you have to work hard to retain those standards."
Key to that success are the lot and garage attendants on the front lines.
"The values that I think are so important is that the guy in the parking lot, the attendant, is just as important or more important than any person we deal with every day," Lazowski said. "When they are representing our company, if they are happy and have a smile on their face a lot of wonderful things can happen."
'Bunch Of Huggers'
Lazowski's valet business was not yet a year old when he caught the attention of local real estate developer and telecommunications magnate David Chase.
Chase had long been a friend of Lazowski's father, Philip. Both are Holocaust survivors - Philip Lazowski narrowly escaped death in Poland as a young man - and are well-known in the Greater Hartford Jewish community.
Philip Lazowski immigrated to America and became a prominent rabbi in Bloomfield, where Alan Lazowski grew up. Philip Lazowski is now retired, but serves as a chaplain to the Connecticut state Senate, the Institute of Living and the Hartford police.
Alan Lazowski asked Chase if he could run the valet service at the old Hilton Hotel that once stood near Hartford's Bushnell Park. Chase surprised him with a counter-offer: How about running the entire parking operation?
In the next year, net profits rose by 50 percent, and it turned out to be his big break, a springboard for the founding of LAZ. Lazowski went on to manage other parking facilities for Chase and soon expanded outside of Hartford.
The Kalamazoo Planning Commission is recommending new zoning language that would mandate that nearly all new developments provide on-site bicycle parking.
By a 4-to-2 vote Thursday night, planning commissioners rejected a motion that would have made bike parking a "suggestion" in the site-plan process rather than a mandate in Kalamazoo's zoning ordinance.
Commissioner Mark Fricke said he wondered whether the proposed requirement was "creating a solution to a problem that doesn't exist" and saddling business with "more government control."
Other commissioners argued that requiring bike lots that will
allow riders to lock their bicycles supports the city's new master
plan touting increased use of non-motorized transportation.
"I'd like to see Kalamazoo be more like Ann Arbor and be ahead of the curve," said Planning Commissioner Merilee Mishall.
City planners said a draft of the plan provided to the Kalamazoo Area Chamber of Commerce drew no comment from business leaders.
Fricke and Commissioner Reed Youngs, who supported Fricke's
initial motion for an optional plan, both voted yes on a subsequent
motion to send the mandate language on to the Kalamazoo City
Commission for final action.
New one- and two-family dwellings would be exempt from bike requirements. But everything from new or remodeled apartment buildings to restaurants to cemeteries would be required to provide bike parking - generally within 100 feet of an entrance - if the city commission adopts the mandate language.
The language says bike spaces must measure at least 2 by 5 feet and have at least a 3-foot-wide access aisle.
The draft endorsed by the planning commission Thursday night was scaled back from a version the group first considered in September.
The earlier draft required up to a maximum 100 bike spaces for some types of developments. That number was reduced to 25. And where spaces were calculated based on the number of an establishment's employees, the requirement went from one space for every three employees to one for every five.
The proposal includes a chart that shows the minimum number of bike parking spaces that would be required for various types of development.
New churches would have to provide one bike space for every 15 seats in the worship area, up to a maximum of 25 spaces. All new eating and drinking establishments in the city would need one bike space for every 12 customer seats, plus a space for every five employees.
Someone developing a new cemetery would be required to have a bike space for every 10,000 square feet of land, up to a maximum of 10 spaces.
New industrial sites would need to provide one space for every five employees, up to a maximum of 30 bike spaces.
The proposed ordinance amendment would allow locations to
convert their bike parking to vehicle space in the winter.
The draft now goes to the city commission for a public hearing and final action. No date has been set for that yet.
Merchants in downtown Scottsdale will have a chance Tuesday at a City Council meeting to voice their views on two parking proposals.
Council member Bob Littlefield says his proposed moratorium on a three-hour downtown-parking limit would help current businesses.
He also says his proposed elimination of a city fee imposed on businesses for parking spaces would help bring new business to downtown.
Many downtown businesses are overwhelmingly in favor of the three-hour parking limit and have complained when it isn't enforced, because they want the parking turnover.
But they have spoken out against the city fee imposed on downtown businesses that don't provide enough parking. They say it's designed only to generate revenue.
Missoulians can expect at least 400 more parking spaces downtown by 2012. It's part of a parking garage that will be built near Higgins Avenue.
It will be located on the corner of Pattee and Front Streets, behind the Macy's building. It's been in the works for years. It will have at least 400 spaces, but could end up being closer to 600, with retail space on the first floor.
Work could begin as early as this spring and hopefully be ready within a year or so. It carries an estimated cost of around $8.5 million. It's being paid for with parking commission bonds and recovery money.
The city of San Diego's relationship with the nonprofit group the Uptown Partnership ended Friday after a series of problems linked to the creation of new parking spaces.
In a letter sent to San Diego City Council members, the group said it had "no interest in continuing its role … we recognized that fundamental, structural change is the only appropriate response."
City Councilwoman Donna Frye said, "It's unfortunate, but it may be time to move on."
In May, 10News first reported the group's problems. Grand jury findings revealed in the last decade, the group received more than $8.5 million. It spend more than $3 million on salaries and put more than $4 million in reserve, leaving just more than $1 million for parking projects. In that time, it created 40 spaces, which translated into $107,000 per space.
"We got a lot of complaints. People in that Uptown District didn't feel like they were going to benefit [what] they were paying for," said Frye.
Uptown Partnership said a lot of resources went toward a Hillcrest parking garage project that was ultimately sunk by the city's bond rating. The group did make some reforms, including expanding the board of directors and establishing term limits.
Despite that, the City Council urged the group to get its act together and opted for a 3-month contract with the group, instead of a year.
Recently, the group's board president also resigned, but what appears to be the final straw -- as pointed out in the group's letter -- involved a consultant that will be hired to take a hard look.
The Uptown Partnership pointed out, "However, they requested that the Partnership have no part in selecting or managing the consultant."
"You need some independence. You need someone looking at the issue that is not beholden to those at whom they are looking," said Frye.
The Uptown Partnership will continue its role until its contract ends December 29.
While Frye is leaving the City Council, she said she believes the other council members will wait until the consultant finishes the report to determine who should manage parking in the future.
Traverse City could be changing what it charges for parking fines - and doubling-up on what it collects.
City leaders are considering some changes to the fine and fee structure, both at parking meters and in the city's parking decks. While it's supposed to raise revenue, not everyone is sold on the idea.
Fines and permit fees from Traverse City's curbside meters, and the city parking decks, all support the city parking system. Part of that means setting aside $100,000 a year for both the Hardy Parking Deck downtown, and the Old Town Parking Deck.
DDA Director Bryan Crough says "the worst thing you want to have is a parking facility that 20 years down the road is out of its life expectancy because you didn't take care of it." Crough says there are ongoing expenses on the street and surface lots too, like snow removal, re-asphalting, and meter repairs. That's why the DDA is suggesting an increase in fines and permit parking.
Right now if your meter expires it costs you five dollars in
fines. The new proposal would double that fine - to 10 dollars. And
the fines double all the way down the line, including the late fees
if you don't pay within 15 or 30 days.
Crough says the fines have not changed in downtown Traverse City since 1999. A committee assigned to evaluate fees determined "that people were not taking a five dollar violation very seriously."
City Commissioner Ralph Soffredine isn't convinced that doubling the fine is the answer. "I know it doesn't sound like a lot, but to me I'm saying 'whoa, wait a minute.' When you increase a cost to government 100%, I want to see some rationale."
In addition to the he changes in fines, permit parking fees would increase by roughly 10% on average. Soffredine agrees the city needs to set aside funds for maintenance, but all the revenue goes into the same pot for the entire parking system. "In other words you're telling me the people at the meters downtown have to pay for the decks? Uh-uh. That's not what it was intended to be."
Crough says "It's our responsibility to make sure the parking system is solvent, that isn't never a threat to the city's general fund or taxpayers. This is, I think, a modest proposal."
In all the rate hikes could generate nearly $110,000 for Traverse City. City Commissioners are set to take up the issue at their next meeting on November 15th.
Vancouver is turning to a bylaw adjudication process for dealing with parking tickets in an effort to unclog provincial courts and collect as much as $8 million in unpaid fines.
City council on Thursday joined a small but growing number of B.C. municipalities that have instituted a "bylaw notice adjudication system" to avoid the costly and time-consuming process of taking ticket recipients to court.
The change, which comes into effect in February, gives the city a powerful new weapon in dealing with the roughly 100,000 ticket fines that are left unpaid every year. And while more than three-quarters of the 450,000 tickets handed out annually are paid on time, a large percentage of those left uncollected involve a small core of scofflaws, council was told.
Just 12 per cent of unpaid ticket holders account for 40 per cent of the value of the unpaid tickets, or just under $3 million, according to Janice MacKenzie, project manager for the bylaw adjudication system.
Under the court process, people who wanted to dispute tickets -- primarily for expired meters or parking in no-parking zones -- could challenge them in Provincial Court. Cases would drag on for months, and the city's conversion rate was not good.
Last year, there were 101,000 outstanding tickets. Of those, only 16,000 were disputed by people or prosecuted by the city. But limited court time meant that only 6,000 cases were heard. In some cases, it takes up to two years to resolve disputes. More importantly, the majority of the unpaid tickets were ones drivers simply ignored.
Under the new system, ticket recipients either pay or have 14 days to file a dispute notice with the adjudicator's office. The cases can be heard over the telephone or online. To get compliance, the city will cut the fine in half if it is paid immediately. But the cost is also high for those who lose their adjudications: the full cost of the ticket plus a $25 "adjudication fee." The city also reserves the right to take egregious cases involving multiple tickets directly to court.
After 56 days, those that are not disputed are deemed as owed and the city can collect on them immediately.
MacKenzie said 43 other B.C. municipalities or regional districts have gone to a bylaw adjudication process. But so far the governments have been unable to convince the Insurance Corp. of B.C. or the provincial government to collect the unpaid fines when drivers go to renew their vehicle insurance or driver's licences.
In the meantime, Vancouver will use a commercial collection agency to collect the fines. It is also equipping its bylaw enforcement officers with photo-equipped ticket dispensers that can record vehicle licence plates and the status of parking meters.
The cost of the program is $238,000 annually. But the city conservatively estimates it will generate $1.2 million more in revenue next year, and nearly $4 million annually by 2014. The program was endorsed unanimously by council.
Ever since the first parking meter went up in Oklahoma City 75 years ago, people have fumbled for change when parking in a downtown locale, looking for a way to feed the meter.
But now, IPS Group, a San Diego company is looking at changing all that, combining cell-phone technology, solar power and credit card readers to create a meter that lets motorists pay with plastic.
The result is a solar-powered meter that replaces standard meters, lets people choose how to pay and reduces the number of tickets issued.
That means that the meters take in more money without rates or hours going up.
"Since we installed the first of these new meters in May, they immediately began earning their keep," Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told reporters a couple of weeks ago, celebrating the installation of 10,000 of the meters.
The IPS meters cost about $500 each as replacements for existing parking meters.
They use the solar cells to charge a nine-volt battery, which can last three years before replacement. A typical digital meter's battery lasts for 6 to 12 months.
Parking is evolving, said Gabe Klein, director of the department of transportation in Washington, D.C., in a recent blog post.
"No one has 'figured parking out' at this point, and each locale has slightly different issues," he said.
Part of it is how technology is changing.
"IT companies are entering what has traditionally been a hardware-based market," he said. "Virtual systems are tying into hardware-based systems, or displacing them altogether. On top of that, you have people's personal technology evolving at a rapid clip with smart phones, apps etc. Last, we can't leave people behind who don't have the latest technology, or give them a lower quality experience."
His city is trying out a variety of meters and strategies. There are problems with making parking too cheap or too expensive, he said.
Meters are important in shopping districts because they keep traffic moving, said Shawn Conrad, executive director of the International Parking Institute, a trade group.
They discourage merchants and workers from parking in front of their stores, opening up those spaces for shoppers. Letting people pay with plastic, he said, gives them more options.
First came the digital meters, which tracked the coins much more accurately, which meant fewer employee thefts.
Now, with wireless connections, there are more payment options, repairs can be scheduled quickly and there's the ability to collect data that's useful not only to parking authorities, but to city planners and community groups.
"They're giving a lot more than just renting that parking spot," Conrad said.
Using credit cards are a benefit to cities as well as customers, he said, because it reduces the number of coins that must be collected.
"It's troublesome to always be collecting these coins," he said.
In Los Angeles, the new IPS meters signal when they're broken, which means that they can be fixed within a few hours.
That's led to a change in parking policies to discourage vandalism. Now, it's illegal to park at a broken meter.
"You have to find another spot," said Sean Anderson, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.
But the city doesn't expect that to be a problem for motorists because the meters have been very reliable.
Other cities have around the country have signed up with IPS.
Last month, La Mesa changed over 102 meters in its downtown district.
"The key thing, the key cost factor, is they're really retrofits to existing meters," said Chris Gonzales, community development program coordinator for that city.
The city has linked the meters to sensors in the pavement, so they zero out when a motorist leaves, increasing revenues.
Having more payment options will mean fewer tickets, he said.
And while that translates into less income from citations, it makes for happier visitors.
The city writes parking tickets to make sure people use the meters, not to make money from fines, Gonzales said.
"That's a bad experience for the shopper," he said. "That's a bad experience for the merchant. It's bad word of mouth."
The variety of meters that accept credit cards is growing, said Chad Lynn, president of the California Public Parking Association.
In Beverly Hills, where he oversees parking meters, people like the ability to use credit cards, he said.
"We've provided customers an ability to pay with what's in their pocket," he said.
While IPS focuses on single-space meters, other companies sell meters that serve multiple spaces.
Those meters, also solar-powered, require customers to walk from their car to the meter, pay and then get a receipt they have to put on the dash.
"That gives agencies and organizations an opportunity to explore more than one option," he said.
San Diego officials decided to change to multi-space meters in certain areas four years ago, before the IPS meters went on the market, said Meredith Dibden Brown, who manages the Office of Small Business.
"In downtown, where there's a lot of foot traffic, it reduces the impediments on the sidewalks," she said.
In addition to 25 meter stations installed in 2006, the City Council in September approved 75 additional stations.
Each $8,000 station generally serves one side of the street for a block, or about 10 spaces, and the existing meters have to be removed.
They have gotten a good reception from customers, she said.
The city ran a pilot program with the IPS single-space meters last year, but hasn't decided whether it will expand their use, Dibden said.
After four months, San Diego officials found that the meters took in 11 percent more money than comparable meters, and tickets issued declined by 44 percent.
The meters are still up in Hillcrest and downtown.
Parking may not be as big of an issue if a new parking garage is built on FSU's campus.
The Florida Board of Governors facilities committee voted in
favor of a resolution seeking more than $16 million for
another parking garage on campus.
Members of the board say the money would come from a number of sources, including an increase in student's access fee which would amount to 50 cents per credit hour over 3 years.
"If you don't get there at the right time, you're going to be driving around for hours stalking people it's incredibly creepy and it takes forever and I've been doing it for 3 years," says FSU student Danielle Sanchez.
"If they built another parking garage, more people are gonna be like 'oh look there's more parking' so even more people are going to drive to campus but you never know, it could help, I don't see why it would hurt," adds another student Russell Sullivan.
The garage which will hold one thousand parking spaces would be completed by 2012.
The company that now operates Chicago's parking meter operations reportedly is going to market as soon as today with $600 million in 10-year notes.
Bloomberg News reports that Chicago Parking Meters LLC plans to revive and expand a debt offering originally planned for July.
The notes reportedly will go for about three full percentage points (300 basis points) more than similarly priced U.S. Treasury notes.
Chicago Parking Meters LLC is owned by Morgan Stanley, Allianz Capital Partners and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.
If it wants to maximize revenue, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport needs to raise parking rates for both customers and off-airport operators that benefit from passengers, a consultant recommended Tuesday.
Ricondo & Associates of Chicago outlined steps that would boost the airport's annual revenue to $166 million a year by 2020 from $97 million in its most recent fiscal year. Among the recommendations:
•Raise rates $2 a day for terminal parking in 2011 and another $1 a day every three years beyond that. The rate rose Oct. 1 from $17 a day to $18 a day for TollTag users and $19 a day for those who don't use TollTag. Parking at the terminal is D/FW's most expensive option and its biggest money-maker, though its fees are lower than rates at similar-size airports.
•Add new options for parking, such as a "premium" option for Terminal D that would allow fliers to park close to the terminal for a higher rate. The airport should also start a reservation program and a loyalty program to keep up with other airports.
•Improve D/FW's express parking by covering spaces, and follow up with rate increases.
•Fix remote parking, which loses money for D/FW, by lowering shuttle bus costs and adjusting rates, which would probably mean raising them.
•Be prepared to add more spaces to take advantage of airport growth.
D/FW board member Bernice Washington said the recommendations are merely starting points for the board as it contemplates how much revenue it needs from parking.
"We may not decide to take any of the recommendations," she said at the committee meeting. The next step is for airport staff to review the consultant's report and make its recommendation to the board.
Ricondo also recommended that D/FW adopt a single valet parking provider, instead of the four that compete today, after it renovates its older terminals. That would mean big changes for the three off-airport valet operators: FreedomPark, Airport Valet and the Parking Spot.
Parking Concepts Inc., which provides the on-airport valet services, said it would welcome a process by which the airport had to pick just one operator.
"The recommendations that were presented today reflect the excellent customer service that we've developed over the past three years," said David Mueller, a vice president and spokesman for California-based PCI.
Ken Kundmueller, owner of FreedomPark and the loudest critic of D/FW's approach to the valet parking issue, declined to comment on the recommendations Tuesday. In the past, Kundmueller has implored his customers to write to D/FW to protest what he considers unfair treatment of off-airport companies.
To finance its terminal renovation, D/FW will issue $2.7 billion in new debt to go along with its $3.6 billion of current debt. To offset the higher debt costs, the airport needs to increase its non-airline revenue, and that means finding more concession and parking dollars.
Fitch Ratings Service downgraded D/FW's credit rating last month, saying the airport's debt ratio would rise compared with its peer airports as it sold the new bonds to pay for redeveloping its older terminals.
It's step two for a downtown revitalization plan that could potentially change the layout of San Juan Capistrano's historic core following a unanimous vote by the City Council to review environmental impacts of the proposal.
The council directed staff Tuesday night to begin the process of creating an environmental impact report regarding the plan, which includes doubling office space, adding about 200 units of retail, adding two hotels, redesigned streets and tripling parking square footage via a new parking garage and more on-street parking.
That means residents can expect city leaders to hold more discussions and about a half dozen more public meetings to be scheduled for residents to share concerns about the plan, which can be viewed at sanjuancapistrano.org.
New items in the final draft included ways the city could get additional funding for the plan, including property tax revenue and government partneships, and a refined timeline for development split into three phases.
In 1995, the council voted to revamp downtown, but that plan-encompassing 7.5 acres while the new one has 150 acres-was shelved. Some city leaders said a lack of community involvement stalled proposed improvements. A 1984 historic town center plan met broad community opposition to increased development. City leaders said this time the plan is different because its broader and has a sharper focus on long-term changes. The city paid Studio One Eleven about $539,000 to prepare the new plan.
The first phase of the new plan would span from 2011 to 2015 and include:
Plaza Banderas, a 126 room hotel across from Mission San Juan Capistrano that's moving through the approval process.
•Improvements to Camino Capistrano, Ortega Highway and Verdugo
The second phase, occurring after California Department of Transportation is scheduled to break ground on a new I-5/Ortega Highway interchange realignment, from 2015-2020 would include:
•Complete Forster Street build out for vehicular entry
•Build parking structure possibly replacing a downtown playhouse (city leaders say they've been looking for a new spot for the theater within downtown)
The plan also calls for more retail near the Ortega Highway freeway exit and a new City Hall to be built after 2020 near Historic Town Center Park. Building a new City Hall may be controversial, but consultants said it would bring hundreds of city workers and City Hall visitors to downtown.
Critics to the downtown plan included those touting historic preservation and others described the plan as too ambitious.
"What we need is something that can happen now. What we need is a way to stimulate the downtown so that in the future many of the plans proposed by Studio 111 might be economically possible," said resident Jan Siegel in a letter to the city read at the meeting.
David Sargent, a Studio One Eleven representative, said the plan may be large, but some parts of it could be quicker and easier to implement including changes to Ortega Highway and Camino Capistrano. The current problem with downtown is that once one gets a few blocks away from the Mission, it doesn't feel like a town center, Sargent said. On Ortega Highway, he suggested wider sidewalks, more trees and more parking.
"This could transform the tail end of an old highway into something that could create a lot of value and be a big change everybody could notice," he said.
He envisioned the same thing for Camino Capistrano, which he believed was in good shape, but could be better by enhancing nearby Forster Street and adding new retail buildings.
"If you could do those two things at once, then muah," said Sargent, bringing his fingers to his lips and making a kiss sound much like an Italian chef would.
Studio One Eleven said anchors, such as the Mission, are necessary to draw customers for the proposed retail. Siegel suggested the Garcia Adobe on Camino Capistrano, one of a few Monterey adobes left, could be an anchor if turned into a museum or Chamber of Commerce building. Council Member Laura Freese, long a revamp supporter, said she liked that idea, but the adobe is private property.
The plan faces that same obstacle with a proposed market hall near El Adobe Plaza on Camino Capistrano. A market hall, like a smaller version of the Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco, would draw visitors. However, the preferred site is private property currently willed to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange.
The city will have to continue working with private landowners to make the plan work. It currently has a steering committee of influential private landowners and leaders hope that will help smooth discussions in the future. Council Member Mark Nielsen asked staff to look into what sites the city owned that could be swapped to make way for plan elements blocked by private ownership.
Some critics also disliked comparisons made to San Clemente and Laguna Beach in the plan. The California Preservation Foundation wrote a letter to the city saying that it was wrong to compare San Juan to the other cities because San Juan's downtown reflects an early Spanish heritage, not the main streets that became popular in the 1920s.
In response, Freese said: "It's not that we want to be like them. We want a main street that's filled."
David Swerdlin, a former council member from 1994 to 2006, said he disagreed with the plan in a letter to the city. He said city leaders needed a "reality check" and forecasted that this plan would be shelved just like the others.
"Keep downtown small with lots of restaurants and put the tax base on the outskirts," he wrote.
But council members said they did not want that to happen.
"The most horrible thing we could ever do is make this a plan that sits on a shelf," Freese said.
Just four Rancho Mirage businesses have taken advantage of a nearly 2-year-old law allowing them to charge nonresidents for parking
The City Council will review the program at its Thursday meeting, before the permits the businesses each paid $100 for expire at the end of the year.
Their intent in February 2009 was to help businesses find another source of revenue in a difficult economy, but some of those who have tried it have found most customers would rather save a few bucks in an area where parking is generally readily available.
"Most people would rather have some more money to spend on popcorn; it's not rocket science," said Carol Ann Zale, senior asset manager of The River.
Before the council approved the ordinance, the upscale shopping center had a valet service that subsisted on tips.
"Everybody assumed The River would do it because they already had a full-blown valet service," Rancho Mirage Economic Development Director Curt Watts said.
According to his report to the council, the number of drivers using The River's valet service dropped by more than 20,000 in the year after it began charging the $5 fee, from 51,298 between April 2008 and March 2009 to 30,843 from April 2009 through March 2010.
Zale said valet usage was declining before the mandatory fee arrived as the economy softened.
Parking can appear tight at that center, but Zale said the valet service's territory has shrunk over time.
"If we reach 8 o'clock, or 7 o'clock (p.m.) and there still is a block of empty parking spaces, they start moving back the barricades," she said.
Las Casuelas Nuevas gave up its valet service when the summer began, and the staff hasn't gotten around to talking about starting up the $3.50 service again, said Andy Delgado, a manager at the restaurant.
Separate valet companies kept all parking profits at the restaurant and the shopping center.
Two resorts, Las Palmas and Mission Hills, also obtained paid-parking permits from the city.
Mission Hills charges $14 for overnight parking, $7 for daily parking and a $4 validation fee, while Las Palmas charges only for valet parking in conjunction with special events.
Residents who bring their two-year parking passes, mailed by the city when the program began at a cost of about $18,000, can park anywhere for free.
According to Watts' report, no managers at participating businesses felt removing the resident exemption would have made much difference in valet parking revenue.
Watts said he wasn't surprised more businesses haven't taken advantage of the pay-to-park ordinance. Valets do better in crowded urban areas, he said.
"People usually don't mind using the free parking if they have to walk three or four aisles to get to the front door," he said.
Parking in West Lafayette might be changing, as was discussed during the City Council meeting Monday.
An ordinance to change the parking requirements as well as building height restrictions was opened for public discussion, but the council will not vote on the measure until the December pre-council meeting.
According to city engineer David Buck, parking requirements are determined by apartment square footage for residential units. The ordinance would change this to a requirement of one space per bedroom.
The goal of the ordinance is to set a path toward creating a true West Lafayette downtown and replicates a trend in development.
"We need to head this direction if we want a downtown," Buck said.
Further explaining what he called a complicated ordinance, Buck said, "It would allow land uses to densify from what they are now, but not without their own self-supported parking."
Some residents and city councilors were not convinced.
Ted Wachs, a resident in the New Chauncey neighborhood, said, "One of the claims made was that this will reduce the number of student rentals in the neighborhood ... this is a very dubious argument."
Councilor Peter Bunder, D-District 2, also did not support the ordinance.
"I suspect that any decrease in the parking required in the business district of urban West Lafayette will push traffic into the neighborhoods," Bunder said.
Buck said the ordinance has the intent of reducing the neighborhood parking problem by requiring new residential units to provide off-street spaces for their residents.
"That's pulling some of that on-street long-term parking off the street and into the development's garage," he said.
Though many voiced their complaints, Councilor Gerry Keen, R-District 5, said he supported the ordinance, but acknowledged there is room for improvement.
Keen said, "It takes care of a number of issues the city has been facing."
The common council could vote on a proposal to spend $740,000 on upgrading parking lots in the city.
Parking Director Tom Hartley said paving, lighting, security measures and new fee collection systems will be installed in city parking lots with the money.
"We want to bring our off-street parking facilities up to industry standards," Hartley said.
He said several parking lots are unattractive and uninviting because they do not offer adequate lighting, security or visibility.
"They are things that are going to add to the safety and comfort of visitors," he said.
Hartley said tax revenue would not be used to pay for the bonding package. Instead, revenue from parking meters and off-street lots would be used to fund all of the work.
The council is scheduled to vote on the measure at a special meeting Nov. 9 at 6:30 p.m.
The upgrades are part of several parking initiatives that are underway right now, including a proposal to raise some downtown fees and build a new parking garage.
Hartley has proposed - and the council is scheduled to consider it in December - that rates for high-demand parking spots should increase. Rates have not been changed since the 1980s, and a new structure would also decrease some hourly rates in off-Main Street lots.
The council Monday night approved spending $6,500 on a study of the Riverview Parking Arcade behind the court house, which will give an estimate of what it will take to repair the structure.
Council members Thomas Serra and Gerald Daley said they wanted to see what was in a report done two years ago on the structure, and said if that study has the necessary information then the money should not be spent.
The parking arcade is one of two possible sites for a new parking garage. The other is on Melilli Plaza next to Washington Street. The council is also set to discuss switching the site of the garage from the arcade to Melilli Plaza.
Nairobi residents have been given a reprieve from the proposed parking rate increase that City Hall was to effect on Monday after the High Court issued a 30-day injunction, pending hearing of the case.
The council had proposed to raise parking rates within the central business district by as much as 115 per cent.
Motorists were to start paying Sh300 from Sh140 and lorries Sh1,000 from Sh800 to park from Monday.
Seasonal parking rates were also supposed rise to Sh3,000 from Sh2,000 for private motorists, Sh3,500 from Sh2,000 for taxis, Sh4,000 from Sh2,200 for 14-seater matatus and Sh8,000 from Sh4,000 for 43-seater buses.
Motor bike and tuk tuk operators would have started paying Sh1,000 and Sh2,000 respectively.
The move would have also seen more Nairobi residents rely on public transport more whose cost was likely to go up as demand increased.
The council has proposed that motorists using automated parking bays part with a Sh50 entry fee then pay Sh15 for every additional 30 minutes while those using non-automated are to pay Sh400 from Sh200.
The new rates were to affect motorists parking in areas such as Upper Hill, Yaya Centre, Hurlingham, Pangani, Muthaiga, Eastleigh, Community, Ngong and Lang'ata Roads, Buru Buru, Lavington, Karen, Kariokor and Ziwani shopping centres.
Saloon cars owners were to pay Sh200, lorries Sh500 and trailers Sh2,000.
The High Court allowed Henry Mwingirwa Nkure, a Nairobi resident through Kurauka and Company Advocates and a group of matatu owners Kaka Travellers Co-operative Savings and Credit Society Limited to file a case that seeks to quash the gazette notice that raised the parking fees.
In the application filed under a certificate of urgency, Mr Mwingirwa said that the decision to increase the parking fees would affect his business among other people because he cannot afford the new charges.
He said that the City Council had increased the rates without regard to the corresponding income of motorists and that his income had not substantially increased in the past one year.
Mr Mwingirwa said that the decision was unilateral and against the interests and welfare of city residents adding that the City Council had failed to provide security at parking lots.
The City Council of Nairobi, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Local government and the Attorney General have been named as respondents in the case that seeks to stop the increase.
Lobby groups welcomed the move saying that the City Council should consult on the rate increases so that businesses in the city are not hurt by excessive rates.
"This was the honourable thing to do and we are asking the Minister to withdraw the rate increases so that there can be consultations," said Timothy Muriuki, Nairobi Central Business District Association chairman.
Developer Louis Cappelli has proposed building another deck or two on the often- overcrowded garage at Westchester County Airport, a move likely to bring controversy, a top county official said.
Acting Transportation Commissioner John Hsu said Cappelli, who built the garage in the 1990s and still manages it, met recently with County Executive Rob Astorino to discuss the idea.
"He's proposed to the administration the possibility of one or two additional decks," Hsu said at a Board of Transportation meeting just over a week ago. Westchester County owns the airport.
Cappelli built the three-level, 1,100-space garage back before he was known for building skylines in New Rochelle and White Plains. But he's not talking publicly about any plans to expand it.
His executive vice president, Joseph Apicella, said he could not comment at this point on whether the developer was pursuing the project.
"We consider a lot of things," Apicella said.
A spokeswoman for Astorino said it's too early to give an opinion on the idea.
"The Cappelli proposal is very preliminary," spokeswoman Donna Greene wrote in an e-mail. "As details emerge, the proposal will be looked at closely."
If Cappelli were to do it, though, a lot of people would welcome the added space at a garage that can be stuffed with cars and SUVs.
"That would be a good thing, since you can't find a spot," Poughkeepsie resident Dennis Rosenbaum said Thursday, after bringing his visiting sister-in-law to catch a flight to Atlanta. Rosenbaum, 64, said he spent 10 or 15 minutes trying to find a spot.
When no spaces are left on the decks, people park on the grass along roads to and from the building. When they do, they've already passed the booth at the entrance, so they're paying the rates - $3.15 for each half hour up to $26.40 for each 24-hour period.
"If you go to the garage between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, you won't find a spot," Hsu said.
Almost 2 million passengers take off or land at the airport every year on 32,000 commercial airline flights. In recent years, the county has taken steps to ease the congestion in the garage, adding a cell phone lot where people picking up incoming passengers can wait until they get a call the friend or family member has arrived. An overflow lot can handle extra cars.
But county officials would also expect a garage proposal to bring controversy, as nearby residents worry that airport operations will expand.
Indeed, a proposal for a five-level, 1,450-space parking garage on New King Street in North Castle, much further along in planning, has drawn opposition.
The developer proposing that building, Aerotech World Trade Corp., submitted its latest document, a preliminary draft environmental impact statement, to the town of North Castle last week.
It would require a change in zoning for the site and must go through several layers of review before it could be built.
Travelers parking there would be shuttled to the terminal.
Aerotech representatives have argued that the garage would cut down on traffic because more people would be able to leave cars rather than being picked up and dropped off.
Susan Leifer of Pleasantville, a member of the Sierra Club's state Watershed Committee, said the two ideas are different.
She is strongly opposed to the Aerotech garage because of its proximity to the Kensico Reservoir.
But she took a more measured view of the possibility of adding a deck or two to the existing garage.
It would need to be looked at carefully, she said, because any increase in operations there increases the possibility of accidents and mishaps that could pollute the reservoir.
Over the years, the airport's role has changed. Once used largely by business travelers, it is now a departure point for people leaving for vacation.
"Now it's a Florida airport," transportation board President Donald Cecil said at the meeting a week ago.
A project to improve a parking shortage at the new Louisiana Delta Community College main campus has begun.
Construction is under way on an additional parking lot at the new $45 million campus, just east of the campus' Louisiana Purchase building. The new parking lot will add an additional 153 spaces.
Since classes began in August at the main campus, all available parking spaces stay filled during morning classes, and some students have been parking along access roads adjacent to the campus.
"We're expecting it to be completed by Dec. 9," said Darian Atkins, Delta's public relations director.
The $291,000 project is being funded by Delta Campus Facilities Corp., a nonprofit organization formed in 2005 to provide a way of funding and overseeing construction of projects at the campus, located on Millhaven Road east of Pecanland Mall.
Delta was able to avoid delays on the project by financing it through the facilities corporation. As a result, the college did not have to advertise the project for a minimum of 30 days, which is a state requirement for all state-financed projects costing more than $150,000.
One reason for the lack of available parking, particularly during morning classes, has been a 30 percent growth in Delta's main campus enrollment.
Delta has 2,175 students taking classes at the Monroe campus during the current fall semester, compared to 1,653 last fall.
Delta officials had projected a fall enrollment of 2,000 students at the Monroe campus.
Total enrollment at Delta is just more than 2,500 students. It also operates campuses at Lake Providence and Tallulah.
Delta Chancellor Luke Robins said he's pleased with the progress on the parking lot. Robins said college officials will determine later whether additional parking space is needed as enrollment continues to increase.
"Once the lot is complete, we will begin enforcing our parking regulations and will conduct some traffic and parking studies to determine whether more parking will be necessary and how soon," Robins said.
There are no plans to abandon efforts to construct a second parking deck in Gettysburg, even though a Florida-based company was rejected this past week by Borough Council.
According to USA Garage Tower Enterprises' Roger Sonntag, there is a "great concern" for parking in Gettysburg, so his company will look to work with a non-government group and possibly advance its plans.
Sonntag's company was hoping to work with the borough and perform a feasibility study on parking, but council rejected a "letter of intent," in a 5-4 vote Oct. 25.
"The community has told us this is needed," Sonntag said regarding a second parking deck, "but with current staffing issues, the borough was unable to commit at this time. We'll be meeting with our entire professional team to determine the best direction for meeting the community's needs for parking problems without needing the borough's assistance.
Borough officials cited concerns about staff workload and financial liability, if it accepted the company's letter.
The borough already has an underutilized parking deck one block north of Lincoln Square, which it owns and operates, sometimes at a deficit. But Sonntag has pointed to a 2009 report by consulting firm Delta Development, which identifies 24 references to parking concerns in Gettysburg, visited by two million Civil War tourists on an annual basis.
"As soon as the direction and best strategy to meet those needs is identified, USA Garage Tower enterprises will pursue," said Sonntag.
Baltimore Street and Steinwehr Avenue have been identified as possible locations for a second garage, although there are no specific details on the proposal, because the company had not performed a feasibility study.
Sonntag views a parking deck as a "destination," and not just a cement structure. He envisions restaurants, offices and shops inside the complex, and noted other garages that his company has opened, such as at the University of Florida.
Council President John Butterfield encouraged Sonntag to work directly with property owners to advance the project, such as Steinwehr Avenue businessman Eric Uberman, Gettysburg Tours President Kenneth J. Rohrbaugh or Gettysburg Hospital.
The hospital, for example, has asked the borough for extra staff parking staff at the Gettysburg Rec Park.