Downtowners not all behind changing parking meter costs
BY BRIAN BARBER World Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
11/21/12 at 8:26 AM
Read continuing coverage of Tulsa’s City Council.
Some downtown stakeholders expressed skepticism Tuesday about the economic development benefits touted from raising parking meter rates and extending the hours.
The city is considering boosting its enforcement efforts of the parking meter system and having a private company, American Parking, oversee the maintenance, said Michael Brink, an efficiency consultant working with the city.
But to have a system that operates efficiently and without subsidy would require the rate and hour changes, he told a crowd of about three dozen during a public hearing on the issue.
"The status quo is not acceptable," Brink said of the city's current broken parking meter system. "It was decided (by a city review committee) that something has to be done."
Jim East represented Kanbar Properties at the meeting said economic development benefits, to him, would mean increasing downtown retail sales, building occupancy and other measurable aspects.
Brink said a working system would help achieve the needed parking turnover to hopefully help achieve those things.
A main problem with the system, he said, is that the rates are so cheap and so many meters are not working that many downtown workers take spaces meant for business customers.
The city now charges 10 to 25 cents per half hour, depending on the type of meter and location, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The rates haven't changed since 1992 and are behind those of peer cities.
The review committee has recommended a bump to 50 cents per hour and as much as $2 for a full hour in the financial district, as well as increasing the hours from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.
The extension of the hours was originally proposed to be until 6 p.m., but due to an outcry from restaurant owners, was dropped back.
Kent Morlan, who lives and has a law office downtown, said he's not in favor of the meter system. What the city should focus on, he said, is enforcing the two-hour, on-street parking time limit.
"This will just drive more people away from downtown," Morlan said.
Several at the meeting were concerned that the Duncan Solutions multispace meters would continue to be used and asked why the manufacturer hasn't being held responsible for them not working.
Traffic Operations Manager Mark Brown said the brand is "the Cadillac of meters." But the city hasn't devoted the money over the years to keep them properly maintained.
If American Parking, in partnership with Duncan, was contracted for the maintenance and capital equipment needs, he said, it would have to ensure 98 percent of the meters were working at all times, with a 48-hour maximum response time for meter repair.
Under the scenario of contracting with American Parking and the city making the meter rate and hour changes and increasing enforcement from two to three employees, the city would net $330,030.
That's based on a projection of the system bringing in slightly more than $1 million in revenue, with about $781,000 coming from meters and about $222,500 from tickets.
American Parking's share would be the first $509,000 in gross revenue and 5 percent of anything exceeding that limit. With the projected revenue, that would come to $533,738.
The city would spend $140,000 in enforcement costs, leaving $330,030.
Brink emphasized that Mayor Dewey Bartlett has not yet made a formal policy recommendation to the City Council, and councilors have not weighed in on the potential rate and hour changes.
Bartlett first wanted to gather public input. Another public meeting will be held sometime in December.
Susan Green, who with her husband runs the restaurant Green's on Boulder, said there are spaces outside her business but no meters and would welcome them because those who occupy the building park there all day.
Tom Wallace of Wallace Engineering and also serves on the Downtown Coordinating Council said he's not a big fan of meter systems.
"But I recognize the need to get the all-day parkers in the all-day lots," he said, adding that he would support enough of a rate increase to achieve that.
"I know a lot of people who share my viewpoint."
Downtown Tulsa meter inventory
Multi-space meters: 146 working, nine not working
Single-space meters: 427 working, 67 not working, 162 have headless posts and 101 have no posts at all.
Recommended rate changes
30-minute meter||Two-hour meter|
Current: 10 cents for each half hour||25 cents for each half hour|
Proposed (general): 50 cents for each half hour||50 cents for each half hour|
Proposed (financial district): 50 cents for each half hour||50 cents for first half hour |
and $2 for each hour
Proposed (south district): N/A||15 cents for each half hour|
Recommended hour changes
Current: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday
Proposed: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday
Original Print Headline: Downtowners mixed on parking meters
Brian Barber 581-8322
An older model parking meter sits near Fourth Street and Boulder Avenue. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World file