Frequently Asked Questions
“On-street parking is without question the most valuable asset in any downtown parking system. It is the most visible and should be the most convenient parking available. Its most important function is to provide convenient access to downtown businesses”.
In general, the following provides the crux of why a city would consider a conversion from free to paid parking:
- Promote parking turnover
- Serve as a means of distributing a limited amount of on-street spaces (mainly in CBD areas) where demand exceeds supply
- Provide short-term parking spaces for shopping or personal errands (this in contrast to long-term parking for commuters)
- Improve traffic circulation and economic viability of downtown commercial areas by maximizing the number of patron visits by car
- Provide an opportunity to generate revenue to be reinvested into the community for street beautification or other essential City related services
Will paid parking run our customers and visitors away?
Absolutely not! In fact just the opposite…
Fact: Retail Managers, Employees and Office Workers take up a significant portion of the valuable on-street spaces.
Fact: Shoppers will risk parking illegally if they can’t find a convenient on-street space.
Fact: Lack of availability and “ticket anxiety” lead to a perceived “downtown parking problem” by shoppers.
Fact: When surveyed, shoppers inevitably list availability, proximity and convenience ahead of price as a concern.
The value of a downtown curbside space is much higher than the nickels, dimes and quarters that go into a parking meter and higher than even the price of a parking ticket!
“In an average commercial downtown, an on-street parking space generates $150-$300 daily in retail sales …”
Hyett-Palma Study (a downtown revitalization consultant firm based in Washington, D.C.)
Every city with urban destination such as a museum, aquarium, convention center, etc has a paid parking program to manage the flex in parking demands that come with these attractions.
Where will the meters be installed?
The plan is to install an unobtrusive, state-of-the-art system of paid on-street parking in the Broad Street corridor commercial area on streets where parking is currently free but time-limited. The Broad Street corridor is generally defined as the areas between 5th street to 13th street bounded by Reynolds Street to the north and Ellis Street to the south.
What will be the days and hours of enforcement?
Enforcement of paid parking will be Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. excluding federal holidays.
What are the proposed parking rates?
We plan to set the parking rate at the lowest possible level consistent with maintaining approximately 10 to 15 percent availability of parking spaces on each affected block. Initially a parking rate of $1.00 an hour with a 2 hour limit for all parallel parking spaces and $1.00 per hour in with a 4 hour limit in the median area.
Where are the residents going to park?
A residential permit parking system will be implemented to allow residents to park on street between certain hours in the evening and throughout the night without having to pay for parking.
Where will the commuters and retail employees park?
Convenient options will be provided for long term monthly parking located in the downtown area.
Where will the net proceeds of this program go?
Installation of new and improved signage, funding improvements to streets, alleys, sidewalks, street lighting and landscaping;
How will this program be measured?
The Paid parking Program will include information systems designed to provide the DDA with the objective data it needs to assess the Program's success or failure and measure its effect on businesses, residents, visitors and employees.
At each stage of the paid parking program, DDA will solicit and fully consider the view of community groups and affected merchants and individuals.
How will this affect the value of real estate property in the CBD?
In other cities where paid parking has become the norm, property taxes tend to remain lower than cities without paid parking. The revenues generated from this program can be used to keep property taxes from increasing. Additionally, the perception of limited available parking will be mitigated by this program which will create an opportunity for market rents.
What will the affect be on the appearance of the CBD?
The plan is to use a blend of single space meters traditionally seen in cities across the US and a multi-space meter. This will cover approximately 1,000 parking spaces.
The single space meter will utilize a fluted post in the color of our choice which will help retain our historic ambiance.
Will there be any customer friendly validation programs?
New electronic meters capable of;
- Accepting nickels, dimes and quarters
- Using New Rechargeable “Chip” Cards
- Refunds unused time back onto card!
- Pre-programmed 5 Minute Grace Period (“5 to Spare Without a Care”)
The Multi-space meters can;
- Provide change
- Accept credit cards
- Give receipts
- Solar powered
- Accept all types of currency (change or bills)
How will the required meters be funded?
The associated parking meters and required capital will not be funded by the tax payer. It is envisioned that a private sector partner will provide the capital for the parking plan.
What is the proposed timeline for this change?
We envision a three month planning phase. Our goal is to finalize all steps in the planning process and start deployment of the meters after the holiday shopping season.
Economic Development through Parking Strategies
The Old Pasadena, CA Model
This summary of the parking management system in Old Pasadena, CA is excerpted from "The High Cost of Free Parking" by Dr. Donald Shoup:
Old Pasadena had no parking meters until 1993. All curb parking was free and was restricted only by a two-hour time limit. Because employees parked in the most convenient curb spaces and moved their cars periodically to avoid citations, customers had difficulty finding places to park. The city's staff proposed installing meters to regulate curb parking, but the merchants and property owners opposed the idea. They feared that meters, rather than freeing up space for customers, would discourage customers from coming at all. Customers and tenants, they assumed, would go to shopping centers with free parking.
Meter proponents countered that anyone who left because they couldn't park free would make room for others who were willing to pay for parking if they could find a space, and that the want of convenient short-term parking kept many potential customers away. Proponents also argued that people who were willing to pay for parking would be likely to spend more money in the shops while they were in Old Pasadena.
Debates about the meters dragged on for two years before the city reached a compromise with the business and property owners: Meter revenue would be used to pay for public investments in Old Pasadena. Parking meters came to be seen in a new light - as a source of revenue - and the desire for public improvements suddenly outweighed the fear of driving customers away. The business and property owners agreed to an unusually high rate of $1 an hour for curb parking and even to operating the meters in the evenings and on Sundays. The city also liked the arrangement because it wanted to improve Old Pasadena.
The meters could provide the $5 million needed to finance the city's ambitious plan to improve Old Pasadena's streetscape and to convert its alleys into walkways with access to shops and restaurants. In effect, Old Pasadena became a parking benefit district.
As an example, for Augusta this type of public investment can be made in the form of interest free loans to merchants and property owners for façade improvements. As these funds are repaid and grown through a dedicated portion of the parking generated income, more loans of increasing value will become available annually. Quite literally, parking revenues can be used to transform and improve the face of downtown Augusta.