Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Paid On-Street Parking...It's Coming...Really

Parking pay stations are coming to the streets of downtown Tacoma. According to City Manager Eric Anderson, expect to see the meters on street this spring.

This announcement is the culmination of nearly a decade of conversations and debates about paid on-street parking. Throughout the years conversations have centered around the tedious balance between charging for parking without deterring customers and having available on-street parking spots for customers and clients.

Most recently the Parking Implementation Committee, comprised of stakeholders from throughout the City’s business districts and downtown worked with consultants to devise a strategy to implement paid-on street parking.

With current demand for downtown on-street parking out pacing supply, the turning point in the conversation was acceptance of a widely held transportation theory that parking pricing should be market based and set at a price point that supports 15% parking spot vacancy. The theory in practice is intended to insure that, while you might not be able to find a spot in front of your favorite business, with 15% vacancy you’ll likely be able to find and pay for one down the street.

How it will work
If approved by the City Council the first phase of parking meters we be rolled out in roughly the BIA boundaries, between S. 7th and S. 21st and between I-705 and Market St.

The pay stations will be similar to Seattle’s where a user purchases a window sticker for and can take extra parking time with them for errands in other parts of the paid parking zone.

The City Manager is asking the Council to set the initial rate at 75 cents per hour with an understanding that this rate will adjust to facilitate 15% vacancy. All revenues generated from the pay stations will stay within the parking system, which supports parking-related investments.

A citizen’s advisory committee will be formed to advise the City on rate and policy changes as the public adjusts to the new system.

September 15th: Pay station proposal reviewed y Committee of the Whole
September 22nd: Council Study Session will review proposed Ordinance
September 29th: First reading of Ordinance
October 6th: Second reading of Ordinance

If passed by Council an RFP for the pay stations will be issued in mid-October and the contract placed at the end of November.

The City Manager is planning a 3 to 4 month public outreach and education campaign in preparation for the pay stations to be installed by April.

What if I don’t want to pay for parking?
There are numerous resources to help downtown employers, employees, residents, customers, visitors, and students get out of their cars an into a bus, van/carpool on to a bike, walking or teleworking. The friendly people at Pierce Transit and Downtown: On the Go! can help you with all your commuting needs. Even changing your commute just once a week will save you money.

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