Ann Arbor Area Community News
It’s been a while since we had a good parking fight around here, so thanks to AnnArbor.com for throwing us a bone. In two pieces today, they post one downtown merchant’s op-ed for free parking during the holidays, and an article on the Ann Arbor City Council’s upcoming discussion of extending meter enforcement from 6pm to 10pm. (full resolution text.)
City Councilmember Sandi Smith cites, in her explanation of the time extension, the importance of convenient, high-turnover parking at the curb for downtown businesses and customers. For at least five years, the DDA has observed that the 6pm end time encourages all-night parking – a downtown employee or patron arriving at 4 or 5pm pays the meter through 6pm, then leaves the car there for the rest of the night, forcing later patrons to park further away even for short trips.
Commenters on AnnArbor.com, by contrast, are heavily skewed towards the attitude that parking should be free, so that downtown Ann Arbor businesses can compete effectively with WalMart.
Extending meter enforcement can, according to Don Shoup and others, help downtown businesses in this competition by providing parking convenience, often a stronger factor than price in the mall vs. downtown decision. (This, as observed, rarely factors into the visceral reaction to pricing parking.)
Notably, past discussions of downtown parking pricing and timing have typically led to the concern that lower income downtown employees priced out by such a decision be provided with an alternative – such as extending the hours of bus service. The resolution at hand does not seem to include consideration of such alternatives.
The resolution references the 2007 Nelson/Nygaard study of downtown parking, available online.
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