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Thread: Get rid of parking meters - and fines - and bill after the fact for street parking

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Get rid of parking meters - and fines - and bill after the fact for street parking

    Had lunch with a friend, lost track of time, got a ticket - 25 bucks. After I already put $1.50 (90 minutes) in the meter and then overstayed it by about 15 minutes. The more I think about it, the more I think that this punititve approach to parking is a bad idea. Obviously parking is a limited and valuable resource; but it can't be good for downtowns, either financially or energetically, to have so many people rushing through meals and shopping trips because the last five minutes of their parking is about to cost 25 times more than the first hour. When are we going to have technology that can observe how much parking we use, and can charge us accordingly after the fact? Not unlike getting billed for how many minutes we talk on the phone, or for that matter, an airport parking lot.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Parking garages largely address the issue you described. They often cost more than a meter but you don't have to worry about getting a ticket. Also I don't think the technology is there yet to do what you described. Considering many meters don't even accept credit cards yet, I think it'll be while before we'll see a system like what you described. It'd probably require a transponder that's only worth getting if you frequently park in the area.

    Actually read that San Francisco is approaching the parking issue in a completely different way than what you described. They're implementing a system that has censors on all the meters that can detect when a car is parked there. So on top of being able to tell if the parking spot is occupied, they can track usage data and also change prices depending on demand. So a spot in front of a busy office building could be $6 an hour while a spot in a residential area could be 50 cents. This is all in an attempt to make sure there are always spaces available.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Some of that parking technology already exists. For example, some systems allow people to purchase additional time through a cell phone. A more basic practice, though, is to provide for long-term parking in addition to short-term. Parking on the street isusually reserved for visits of short duration, while lot or garage parking usually allows longer stays. It should work well for most people, except in cases like yours when you get briefly detained longer than expected. A $25 fine seems awfully high.
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  4. #4
    The technology exists but it's not cost-feasible to implement. I remember seeing some really cool technology in a ungated parking garage Montgomery County, Maryland. It was a parking garage, but they had sensors that indicated open spots and kept track of time the vehicle was parked. All you had to do was swipe your credit card and enter the parking spot number.

    Obviously parking is a limited and valuable resource; but it can't be good for downtowns, either financially or energetically, to have so many people rushing through meals and shopping trips because the last five minutes of their parking is about to cost 25 times more than the first hour.
    A little bit of an off topic rant: Toronto's downtown continues to thrive as the number of parking spaces greatly decreases. Good transit along with a growing downtown resident population is better for downtowns than providing parking for suburbanites. [/endrant]
    The content contrarian

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Magic of the city

    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    It should work well for most people, except in cases like yours when you get briefly detained longer than expected ...
    Yeah, but a good city invites you to do things you hadn't necessarily planned on, and people shouldn't be given fines and "violations" for spontaneously deciding to spend more time downtown. They should certainly pay more the longer they park, and maybe at an accelerating rate to encourage turnover at the desirable on-street spaces - instead of $1, the third hour could cost $2 or $4, but certainly not $10, let alone $25.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by 3 mph View post
    Yeah, but a good city invites you to do things you hadn't necessarily planned on, and people shouldn't be given fines and "violations" for spontaneously deciding to spend more time downtown. They should certainly pay more the longer they park, and maybe at an accelerating rate to encourage turnover at the desirable on-street spaces - instead of $1, the third hour could cost $2 or $4, but certainly not $10, let alone $25.
    Given that logic shouldn't the longer you park it get cheaper with each hour or half hour? You want to be inviting to explore so you shouldn't be worried about leaving before a certain time, thus an initial large price for the first hour and low price for subsequent hours would make people "get the most" for their first hour vice forcing them to leave.

    Parking is such a tricky subject - make it expensive and people will walk or take transit when they can. Make it free and renters, shop owners, students and non-consumers will gobble up those spaces quickly. Parking should be expensive and transit free if you really want to think about getting people downtown. In fact, why don't you use the parking revenue to fully fund mass transit to and around downtown?
    @GigCityPlanner

  7. #7
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    Given that logic shouldn't the longer you park it get cheaper with each hour or half hour? You want to be inviting to explore so you shouldn't be worried about leaving before a certain time, thus an initial large price for the first hour and low price for subsequent hours would make people "get the most" for their first hour vice forcing them to leave.

    Parking is such a tricky subject - make it expensive and people will walk or take transit when they can. Make it free and renters, shop owners, students and non-consumers will gobble up those spaces quickly. Parking should be expensive and transit free if you really want to think about getting people downtown. In fact, why don't you use the parking revenue to fully fund mass transit to and around downtown?
    That might work in very big and dense places like Chicago, NYC, San Francisco and so forth, but everywhere else it will just drive people into the suburban places where parking is *free* and unrestricted, as long as one is patronizing or working at the businesses where that parking is.

    Here in Appleton, downtown meter fines start at a couple of dollars and increase on a sliding scale based on the number of violations within a certain time period (IIRC, the prior 12 months - those ticketing gizmos are sophisticated!). The on-street meter rate is 75/hour with varying time limits based on location and the off-street ramps are $2 to enter, park as long as one wants.

    Mike

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Good points on both sides.

    Like Appleton, one technology that IS being implemented widely is the "courtesy ticket" ... in Fort Collins, if its your first offense in a certain time period (year? 6 months?) you get a "courtesy ticket" thanking you for visiting downtown, informing you that you've overstayed, with a parking map and regs on the back. To me this makes visitors - whether first-time or regular - feel welcome. To me it also conveys that the parking management program is there to serve the users, not punish them.

    The whole system works b/c they have technology to read license plates - something fairly common in parking enforcement.

    I contrast this with Denver, where my front plate fell off on a work day when I needed to get to the office, so I displayed it prominently in the windshield until I could fix it. I got a big ticket, and went to a "parking magistrate" to plead for mercy. The magistrate told me that it was "your choice to go to work that day" rather than fixing my plate. So much for supporting economic vitality in the city! As one who believes strongly in good government and public service, I was deeply offended but not surprised by the attitude of Denver.

    Perhaps Denver thinks they don't have to compete with suburban areas and free parking, but I think the make up of our metro area shows that we do indeed compete with the suburbs for jobs, clients and shoppers.

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  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    Given that logic shouldn't the longer you park it get cheaper with each hour or half hour? You want to be inviting to explore so you shouldn't be worried about leaving before a certain time, thus an initial large price for the first hour and low price for subsequent hours would make people "get the most" for their first hour vice forcing them to leave.
    Good point, maybe the more logical approach would be to just adjust the price to fluctuate with demand, like the San Francisco scheme, and stay out of the business of judging how long people should park in a given spot - as long as they're willing to pay what the market dictates. I don't think charging a high initial price is a good idea, because (1) you want to entice people to come downtown in the first place and (2) charges should correspond to the amount of parking resources that someone actually consumes.

    Obviously the best solution is for fewer people to drive cars into the urban core in the first place, but the kind of transit and TOD that will enable large numbers of people is several decades away, at least in the Denver metro; in the meantime, parking is an important resource that needs to be carefully managed.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by docwatson View post

    I contrast this with Denver, where my front plate fell off on a work day when I needed to get to the office, so I displayed it prominently in the windshield until I could fix it. I got a big ticket, and went to a "parking magistrate" to plead for mercy. The magistrate told me that it was "your choice to go to work that day" rather than fixing my plate. So much for supporting economic vitality in the city! As one who believes strongly in good government and public service, I was deeply offended but not surprised by the attitude of Denver.

    Perhaps Denver thinks they don't have to compete with suburban areas and free parking, but I think the make up of our metro area shows that we do indeed compete with the suburbs for jobs, clients and shoppers.
    Me: " I don't think this ticket is fair ..."
    Denver Parking Magistrate: "I see. And why exactly do you feel it's beneath you to follow the rules of a civilized society?"

    I may be exaggerating, but not by much. They are clearly about the revenue grab, and good government is way down on the list of priorities. Given all the externalized costs associated with driving, I'm all for it getting more expensive, but Denver's approach is pretty counterproductive IMO. Sounds like Appleton is on the right track, but I would prefer to just get a parking bill at the end of the month that looks a lot like my phone bill - I think we have the technology, it's just a matter of one or two decent-size cities finding the will to implement it.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by 3 mph View post
    Obviously the best solution is for fewer people to drive cars into the urban core in the first place, but the kind of transit and TOD that will enable large numbers of people is several decades away, at least in the Denver metro; in the meantime, parking is an important resource that needs to be carefully managed.
    Denver does have a ton of parking on light rail lines right outside the CBD that rarely gets completely utilized. In that sense, I have no problems with Denver being overzealous with their parking enforcement downtown since the areas they're patrolling are in premium locations. I certainly think the situation could be improved though by increasing access to the lots across Speer.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    An example from a nearby community of about 7,500 people, but with a good tourism trade. http://walworthcountytoday.com/news/...more-take-cha/
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  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    I do believe there's an app for that.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by 3 mph View post
    Yeah, but a good city invites you to do things you hadn't necessarily planned on, and people shouldn't be given fines and "violations" for spontaneously deciding to spend more time downtown. They should certainly pay more the longer they park, and maybe at an accelerating rate to encourage turnover at the desirable on-street spaces - instead of $1, the third hour could cost $2 or $4, but certainly not $10, let alone $25.
    What a bargain. Its $50 in Chicago and I'm sure your much more likely to get one.

  16. #16
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jsk1983 View post
    What a bargain. Its $50 in Chicago and I'm sure your much more likely to get one.
    My thought exactly. $45 for an expired meter ticket in Newark. Park in a permit only zone, $65. Parking lots are privately owned and operated and definitely not a bargain, the ones near city hall charge the most. An average 2 hour trip to visit the numerous departments I do business with costs $11-$13, sometimes $20 if there's a special event going on downtown.
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