Wednesday, October 28, 2009

City Council Endorses Parking Meters for Downtown

Last night the City Council unanimously passed an ordinance endorsing parking pay stations in downtown Tacoma. Pay stations are one piece of a parking strategy that strives to encourage long-term parkers (i.e. downtown workers and students) to park in garages and lots and leave the on-street stalls to shoppers, restaurant goers and business clients.

The ordinance dictates that
1. Parking rates will be market driven with the goal of achieving 15% on-street parking stall vacancy and start at $0.75 an hour.
2. All revenue from the pay stations will go into a Parking Enterprise Fund to be used for parking-related expenses.
3. A citizens taskforce will be established to oversee the functionality of the on-street parking system.

The pay stations will be similar to those in Seattle or Portland, in which the parker purchases a window sticker with a time stamp and can take their paid time with them throughout the metered area of downtown. The boundaries of the initial metered area are roughly the boundaries of the BIA, all streets between S. 7th and S. 21st, “A” Street and Market St.

The parking pay stations will be rolled out this spring in conjunction with an extensive public outreach process to educate the public about use of the pay stations as well as alternative transportation choices for drivers unable or unwilling to pay and for downtown users looking for an alternative to driving their cars.

The specific details of the system (length of stay, when and how rates are adjusted, etc) will be decided by the citizens committee, which reports regularly to the City Manager and annually to the Environment and Public Works Committee of the City Council. This ordinance was the outcome of more than 18 months worth of public input from a diverse group of downtown and neighborhood stakeholders.


  1. One way to make this program even better is to funnel some of the funds into the local Business Improvement District (not sure what your similar entity would be), to do streetscaping, or area cleanup for the blocks where the funds were collected.

  2. Downtown Tacoma has a property owner-funded BIA that provides sidewalk cleaning and other maintenance services for Tacoma's central business district. There was discussion about applying a percentage of the revenue to streetscape improvements within the district the revenue is collected (as in Pasadena, CA), but this idea was unpopular with some policy makers.

  3. The BIA also provides security services