Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Everybody loves talking about parking

8. July 2005 • Murph
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So much so, in fact, that the Ann Arbor News seems to have found it necessary to run the story twice, at least on their website, both yesterday and today: Parking structure rates will decrease.

The City and DDA have made a number of changes recently and are considering more to address perceived misuses of the downtown parking system. The City recently changed the cost of an expired-meter ticket paid within 24 hours from $5 to $10, fixing a loophole where tickets were cheaper than structured parking. On Wednesday, the DDA resolved to adjust hourly rates at meters and structures – since meters are seen as more desirable parking, especially by customers of downtown businesses looking for easy access, the DDA wanted to encourage long-term parkers to use off-street facilities, freeing up meters for higher turnover use. Assuming Council doesn’t reject the change, meter rates will go up to $1 / hour and structure rates down to $0.80 / hour. (Some DDA members are unhappy with this; the change is revenue-neutral from the current system, while the DDA’s rent of the meters from the city went from around $100k last year to $2m this year.)

The next issue the DDA is considering is the question of evening parking. The metered parking system was set up when downtown was purely retail and office, and doesn’t work well with Main Street’s current evening-oriented entertainment uses. Free metered parking after 6pm means an incentive for evening employees to park on the street for 8 hours at a time, pushing other parkers into the structures or further from their destinations (and annoying business owners). The DDA will be looking at extending parking meter enforcement later into the evening, probably in the next six months, but has already heard some complaints about this idea from people who feel evening street parking is meant to be free.

Since every thread on this site ends up talking about parking or transportation at some point, here’s an attempt to capture some of that in a dedicated thread. Discuss.

  1. If business owners are annoyed about their own employees taking up street parking spaces they would prefer to see used by their customers, it seems to me that the business owners can work with/dictate to their employees about the problem.
       —tom    Jul. 8 '05 - 03:59PM    #
  2. Well, but that requires catching them. I’m betting most of the businesses feel like they have better things to do than patrol the meters in a one-block radius for their employees’ cars.
       —Murph.    Jul. 8 '05 - 04:12PM    #
  3. Just to throw this information out there:

    University Monthly Parking Rates (cost to user)
    These permits give you the right to park in University parking although there is no guaranteed spot: aka “hunting permit.”
    Blue $53.30/month (closest)
    Yellow 19.75/month (short walk)
    Orange 14.75/month (longer walk or shuttle)

    City Monthly Parking Rates
    This provides a guaranteed spot in a particular structure (although not a specific spot).
       —Juliew    Jul. 8 '05 - 04:20PM    #
  4. “people who feel evening street parking is meant to be free”

    Good choice of words, Murph. It’s a feeling, not a thought. And since it is, it’s something that the vast majority of people will get over, most of them fairly quickly.

    In addition to giving goPasses to their employees for riding the bus, business owners can give parking vouchers for use in structures and surface lots to those employees who must drive.

    Also, businesses can give an added incentive to workers by paying them bonuses based on monthly sales or some other metric. (Or so I’ve heard ;-) ) “Sure, you can park in front of the store/restaurant if you want, but that’s going to affect your bonus if it prevents several customers from parking there.” Peer pressure from fellow employees probably helps in this case.

    These practices would benefit all downtown businesses—and workers—as would the proposed meter changes (but only for those businesses open in the evening.)
       —Steve Bean    Jul. 8 '05 - 04:48PM    #
  5. To add to Juliew’s numbers:

    * DDA “Premium” parking pass (guarantee a specific spot; there are some of these on the first floors of most of the structures and in some of the surface lots): $135/month (going up to $145/month under the new rate system).

    * DDA residential night-only permit (can’t park in the structure between 8am and 5pm): $50/month. (these were just introduced this year, and only a few have been purchased so far)
       —Murph.    Jul. 8 '05 - 06:02PM    #
  6. Why not just make the meters free, but give ‘em time limits like the residential parking around campus? It’s free, but you can only be there for an hour or two (or four, depending on the neighborhood).
       —js    Jul. 8 '05 - 06:13PM    #
  7. I think the police have said that enforcing time limits takes a lot more work ($) than enforcing expired meters. You have to hit every car twice, two hours apart, in order to get them on time limits, but only once to get them on an expired meter.

    Also, (I’m now midway through “the High Cost of Free Parking), the economic incentive of pricing parking works a lot better than time limits. He actually has a whole section on behavior induced by free parking with time limits, like employees leaving work in pairs every two hours to swap parking spaces.
       —Murph    Jul. 8 '05 - 07:09PM    #
  8. I don’t think there’s any point in encouraging evening downtown employees not to park at the meters. Lets say you guilt one guy into parking somewhere else. Five minutes later some other evening worker (making one quick pass down Main before parking for free in the Kleinschmidt lot, the Visitor Bureau lot, or if necessary a few blocks up on North Ashley) anyway, that guy lucks into a spot on Main, and it’s still gone all night.

    As long as it’s free, the incentive to park there is just too high. Who wouldn’t park for free right outside their place of employment rather than pay eight bucks to park a few blocks away.

    And you wouldn’t need to keep the meters running until midnight, just until the vast majority of downtown evening workers were parked—maybe 9:00, but you could keep collecting money until later (and keep the meter maids out) if it proved profitable.
       —Parking Structure Dude!    Jul. 8 '05 - 07:44PM    #
  9. In addition to giving goPasses to their employees for riding the bus,

    Since we’re talking about evening employees, this won’t work—busses run only once an hour, if at all, after 6pm weekdays, and not at all after 10pm weekdays (6pm weekends).
       —[libcat]    Jul. 8 '05 - 08:06PM    #
  10. PSD: when this comes up for discussion by the DDA, you’re totally getting cited. “Look! This isn’t necessarily going to come off as money-grubbing and draconian to everybody – some random anonymous commenter came up with exactly this idea.” (I suppose you could be a DDA Board member posting anonymously; your last paragraph is almost a direct quote from somebody at a recent meeting.)

    Most of the evening employees show up between 4 and 6 to start their shifts; enough disincentive to get them away from the meters and using $2 evening-entry parking in 1st/Washington or parking at 1st/William and walking up would free up their meter spaces for other people. (And 1st/Washington and 1st/William both get pretty full on Thursday-Saturday evenings, just not until later, when people who can’t find parking closer because it’s all taken already park there and walk.)
       —Murph    Jul. 8 '05 - 08:07PM    #
  11. How late would buses have to run to accomodate evening/night activity? Last one leaving BTC at 3 am? How frequently would they have to run to make it worthwhile?

    I have no idea how much it would cost to run buses until 3 am, or how much revenue the DDA would take in charging for evening parking. The DDA already pays for the goPasses, though, and part of the Link’s cost. Let’s fantasize a bit:

    * The DDA and City choose to extend the meters until 9 or 10 pm, and take in a fair bit of extra revenue.
    * It becomes much easier to find a meter if you’re coming downtown for dinner, because a lot of people are displaced from the meters.
    * The DDA offers a sizeable share of the increased revenues to AATA for the purposes of running a few lines, infrequent but express, late into the night. Say, #2 (north side), #4 (south main/briarwood), #5 (packard to ypsi), serving some amount of the demand.

    Would the DDA be lynched by angry businesses for being greedy meter demons, or lauded for making it so that the restaurants never heard complaints about finding a parking space, but didn’t lose any business? (Obviously, this is more of a thought exercise than a scientific survey, but if you see me walking down Main St. with a clipboard asking people about paying for parking vs. looking for parking, you’ll know why…)
       —Murph    Jul. 8 '05 - 08:18PM    #
  12. I’m beginning to understand why some people choose to post anonymously.

    PSD, fortunately the number of workers who value their downtown jobs exceeds those who don’t. Not that they’d get fired, but they’re intelligent enough to understand their role in the whole thing and responsible enough to act on that knowledge. The forms of encouragement and assistance I described actually work to a large extent.

    “this won’t work”

    Libcat, many retail businesses close around 9 pm both during the week and on weekends. Employees often work from 2-6 or 1-9 or 5-9. The bus system serves some of them well, others not. That’s why I also mentioned parking vouchers. If you’re the one hiding the silver bullet, now would be the time to share.
       —Steve Bean    Jul. 8 '05 - 08:33PM    #
  13. I apologize for that last set of jabs. I’m very big on personal responsibility (Iike carefully reading and considering what others wrote, signing your name, and being thoughtful enough to write—and rewrite—something worth signing), but being snotty about it isn’t the way I’d like to promote it.
       —Steve Bean    Jul. 8 '05 - 08:45PM    #
  14. Murph and Steve, I sincerely hope that actual DDA Board members are better behaved than I am. If I prefer to remain anonymous, it’s mainly because I don’t want it getting back to my mom how much cussing I do. I’m just a downtown resident and University employee. And I didn’t mean to demean anyone, Steve, including folks who might work for your wife. There’s just no way you’re going to convince most people to pay money and walk further for something they can get for free. It doesn’t make them bad people. Even if you ask them nicely not to park at meters and they still do it, you can’t blame them. It’s just too nice of a treat to dangle in front of them. Heck, I had a friend who used to park in a “no parking” spot in front of the place she bartended. She almost never got a ticket and when the place closed her car was right outside the door. So no scary walk at 2:30 in the morning. And the beautiful part, to her, was that since it was a “no parking” spot, it was always waiting for her. I couldn’t really blame her—and she wasn’t even taking up a metered spot. The trick is to recognize that you need to take away the economic incentive. Make it cost/benefit neutral even and then most folks will do the right thing.

    And if I’m sounding especially rational right now, blame Jonathan Levine who taught the Econ. class I took when I was dabbling in the MUP Program. The ranting stuff I inherited from my father.
       —Parking Structure Dude!    Jul. 8 '05 - 09:42PM    #
  15. I found the DDA board discussion on the change in parking rates to be a useless reiteration of previous discussions in the same forum. As a result, the resolution passed will do little to accomplish their goal of reducing employee use of metered parking.

    Here is my main gripe. The timing of meter enforcement is the main cause of the “upside down� pricing of parking downtown. The most backward pricing is available at about 5pm (6pm if the meter maids actually enforce your meter in the last few minutes of their shift) when you can park at a meter for free. At the same time you can park in a structure for $2, and you can park in a lot for about $1/hour. Despite the constantly restated concern of employees parking at meters, the DDA chose only to change the rates and not the period of enforcement.

    The main argument stated for doing so was that there was no understanding of how a time change would impact revenues and costs. I got the distinct feeling that many board members didn’t want to include the time change because it was controversial within their street associations. That issue didn’t really come up though. They chose to pass the resolution as is with the understanding that they would pass a new resolution addressing the time change later.

    I found this dangerous because the board is assuming that the concern over the second (and more important half) of the parking rate changes will somehow be resolved without any plan for how to move that proposal forward through the impending outcry of business owners. I see a similarity to the greenbelt initiative that was passed with the (implied or inferred?) assumption that the city would initiate density later. The passing of that initiative has hardly created a unified agreement on downtown density. I fear that the change in enforcement times will never come about because of business owner resistance and be repeatedly put off while more investigation is proposed but never completed. As an example, the operations committee between the June and July board meetings did absolutely nothing to add to or forward the discussion on this resolution.

    Now allow me to flip my position completely and argue that focusing on employee parking behavior is totally unjustified. This is my interpretation of Murph’s work, so I’m planning to be proven wrong by him, but I think it is worth discussion. There was no investigation (for obvious, practical reasons) into whether those long-term parkers were employees. I believe the study looked at the range of 5pm to 9pm. While I don’t know of any data on this, I imagine that there are many people who visit downtown and stay in a metered spot, for free, for well over four hours. Dinner and a movie, dinner and a show at the Ark or Comedy Inferno, parties, dancing, pool and beer, are all ways that someone can spend more than four hours downtown in an evening. It seems to me that it would actually be the goal of the DDA to KEEP customers downtown for more than one activity (and more than a couple hours) each night. The data Murph collected does not justify targeting employees. Furthermore, I disagree with the idea of an employer demanding that employees sacrifice their access to a public good. If the business owned the parking space, the issue would be different. But I feel that an effort to free up meters for short-term parking should not target a specific user group or be the responsibility of individual businesses. The DDA is responsible for parking issues and should change the period of enforcement to encourage structures for long-term parking.

    However, such a change does water the weeds with the flowers. I believe that Murph found long term, evening parking to consume about 30% of spaces in a few areas of downtown, his research indicated that other areas were only slightly affected (10%) or not at all. This suggests that the problem is not a widespread concern that is best addressed by a broad policy change. In fact, this reduces the free parking supply in some areas of town without producing any benefits for local businesses. Instead it raises enforcement costs in these areas while discouraging potential customers from parking in an area with widely available parking. I think that the worst problem area Murph found was the Palio lot (no big surprise). Perhaps a trial extension of hours in this small area would provide some insight into the effectiveness of a change in meter timing.

    I’ll stop here for fear of becoming a parking bore.
       —Scott TenBrink    Jul. 8 '05 - 10:36PM    #
  16. ...except to reply to Murph’s #11 post.

    My first thought in reading this suggestion is that the DDA doesn’t seem very likely divert it’s parking income anywhere, and least of all toward the AATA. Their repeated refusal to contribute the cost of ONE structured parking space to reviving the LINK indicates that they do not feel obliged to support AATA efforts.

    A more rational and adult response may be that it is a bad idea to tie the funding of transit to parking reveues. In my experience, dependence on parking revenues is already influencing the DDA’s decisions too much. Tying bus routes to evening parking income would be difficult (though not impossible and make AATA services dependent on more traffic when they should be trying to reduce it.
    DDA funding late night busses is a great idea, as is funding the LINK, but neither should be tied directly to parking revenues.
       —Scott TenBrink    Jul. 8 '05 - 10:48PM    #
  17. Scott, from sitting in on Committee discussions on the Link, I think the DDA is (a) a little reluctant to be held hostage for the Link – to have AATA coming to them every year and saying, “Well, do you want to pay this much, or let the Link die?” I’ve heard DDAers say that they’re concerned AATA is not at all committed to the Link (you heard Leah ask Chris White this at the meeting), and (b) a few of them think the Link is primarily a student amenity. (Especially since AATA is proposing to only run it September through April.)

    You heard Roger Hewitt say at the meeting that really there isn’t a pressing need for it in downtown, but that there will be if/as downtown population increases, and that it would be harder to restart it in a few years than to keep it going; I think that might be the sentiment several of them are acting on.

    And why not attach transit and parking? They’re both transportation, right? (And isn’t parking money already paying for the goPass?) How many of those is the DDA subsidizing down from $37/month to $5/year? (Which isn’t really what’s happening, of course, but it’s fun to beat my little DDA chest back at your little getDowntown chest…)

    First off, I’m not saying that the amount that the DDA contributes should be a strictly determined percentage that wavers from year to year, but that the DDA could indicate willingness to negotiate partial funding of such a service with AATA the same way they have been working on the Link. And, second, it doesn’t make AATA dependant on more traffic – it’s not necessarily volume so much as value. The volume’s already there; just charge what they value the parking at. Free money that could be used to fund good stuff (like evening transit service, for example), and isn’t being captured.
       —Murph.    Jul. 9 '05 - 01:55AM    #
  18. Downtown on a busy evening, the on-street spaces are convenient and free but extremely limited. Because street spaces are seen as so much more desirable than structure spaces, people go to great lengths to search for one, burning gasoline, polluting the air, and congesting the streets. Like anyone, I have done this myself.

    I think under some circumstances it might actually be better to remove the super-coveted spaces altogether, so as to eliminate the incentive to troll for them. Indeed, I think the sidewalk changes along Main Street, which removed many parking spaces, probably helped convince some people to go directly to the structure and not bother circling the block five or six times first.

    As noted, in the evening, most everyone who goes downtown expects to stay for a while. Short-term quick errand visits (what metered parking is for) are a daytime issue, not applicable to the nighttime situation.

    What we need is “evening mode” for parking. Maybe the Main Street restaurants could be authorized to extend their seating into those spaces from 6pm until 2am. Removing parking on Main Street from Main to William would end nighttime trolling, at least in the warm months.
       —Larry Kestenbaum    Jul. 9 '05 - 02:35AM    #
  19. Er, I meant Huron to William, of course.
       —Larry Kestenbaum    Jul. 9 '05 - 02:38AM    #
  20. Larry,

    Actually, the average stay in the Main/Liberty area of cars parked for less than four hours is about 1 hour 15 minutes, with lots of cars staying for only around 15 minutes. (I can’t quantify “lots” off-hand, since I’m at home and operating from memory, but it wasn’t a fluky sort of thing.) Many of those people appeared to be picking up take-out or waiting to pick somebody up. There are about 30 or 36 (can’t remember) parking spaces on Main, Huron -> William. 30 or 36 spots, 1:15 average parking time, assume “evening activity mode” of about 5-10pm (probably longer, but I can’t say so from observation), is at least 132 vehicles served in a Thurs/Fri/Sat evening during the summer, good weather or bad, by the metered parking on three blocks of Main St. 6336+ cars served May-August, Thursday-Saturday, 5pm-10pm, by those parking spaces. Do with that what you will.

    (Qwik-methodology: only one evening of data collection for the particular purpose of “how long do people park”, but observing several hundred cars during that time – I was walking a 15-minute loop, so “more than 0, but less than half an hour” is what I mean by “around 15 minutes”; four hours was the maximum duration that I observed any car for; that was my presumption for “unreasonably long-term”.)
       —Murph.    Jul. 9 '05 - 03:39AM    #
  21. Steve, I still remember when we were told never to give out names or personal information online. . . . I’ve lived in Ann Arbor for the better part of 16 years (Huron ‘00). I have no college degree, much less planning experience, but I have ideas. Certainly some of them won’t work. . .

    As for “parking vouchers”, how about those of us who can’t, or don’t, drive? Some of us choose not to get licences; others can’t (or couldn’t) afford having, maintaining, and using a car if we do (or did) have one.

    I work until midnight four nights a week; I’m well aware of how little is open downtown that late. Perhaps if there were some kind of bus service later, even a skeleton ‘night owl’ service, then people would be able to get more employees and customers later and stay open later? I know that if it were possible to get a bus home, I’d be more open to staying out later; the lack of functioning (or exist-ing) street lighting in certain areas makes me leery of biking or walking home late at night. (And, it takes me 30-40 minutes to walk home from campus…)

    A skeleton-service plan could look something like this: Each routeset is planned as a loop; they could run one direction or the other, or like the 12s could have one in each direction. Some of the loops are very long, but I’m not sure how to improve that in the absence of an east-side terminal.

    1/2/3 “North/East”—Out through the med center to Pontiac, DV, Green, Glazier, Earhart, Geddes, Huron Pkway, back on Plymouth or through North Campus. Hits P&R lot on Green Rd.

    4/5 “Southeast”—Depending on whether service is restricted to city limits (like the current “Night Ride” service) or not, could go
    (A) Out Washtenaw to Ypsi, back via Packard, or
    (B) Out Washtenaw to Arborland, Carpenter to Packard to downtown. Hits P&R lot at Arborland.

    6/7 “South”—Main to Briarwood (how late is this open, anyway?), AA-Saline to Meijer, Ellsworth to the other Meijer, Carpenter, Packard, Eisenhower, and up (S Industrial to) State to campus/downtown. Hits P&R lots at Pioneer, AA-Saline/94.

    15/8 “South west” Main or 7th to Scio Church, Maple to Maple Village, back down Stadium, (Pauline,) Main. Hits P&R lots at Pioneer, Maple Village.

    9(/8) “West-Central” (a)Huron, Dexter, Maple, Jackson, Huron. (Anyone remember the 17 anymore?). Or (b) Huron, Dexter, Maple, (Stadium,) Pauline, Main. Hits P&R lot at Maple Village.

    12/9 “North west” Miller, Maple, Jackson. Could also be 13/12/9: 4th or Main to Summit, Brooks? to Sunset, Newport to Miller, then as above. Hits P&R lot at Maple Village; could also be extended to hit lot at Miller/14.

    These are quick, top-of-my-head suggestions, and are very open to revision (especially on the west side, which I’m much less familiar with), but just a base starting suggestion . . .

    I don’t have access to paper & a map at work tonight, but would be willing & able to sketch&scan tomorrow if people are interested in visuals.
       —[libcat], who used to have all *sorts* of ideas for the AATA when I was 10 :)    Jul. 9 '05 - 04:13AM    #
  22. To more of Scott’s points:

    * Yes, there are people other than employees who could easily have been the long-term parkers I saw. We agree that four-hour parking is what the structures are for, leaving the meters for more of the 1:15 type of parking I was mentioning in response to Larry, and so an intervention to prevent long-term parking at meters should be targetted at all such parkers, regardless of their destination.

    * Now, since employees are a notable portion of that user group (I did witness people in Gratzi’s and Conor O’Neill’s uniforms parking at meters and heading in to work), it is reasonable to discuss other actions in addition to the meters. In this case, I think that the $2 parking available at 1st/Washington serve that population well – there’s a decent amount of space available there between 4 and 6 pm that could accommodate a number of employees displaced from free meter parking without forcing them to choose between 8 hours in the structure or long walks back to dark neighborhood street parking after midnight. (For as long as 1st/Washington lasts; it’ll have to be shut down for at least some part of the next six months for major repairs, or else closed for good, apparently.)

    * I agree that the Board was being more conservative than I would have liked. Roger Hewitt was pushing, in Ops Committee, to at least bring a proposal to extend meter hours until 7pm to the Board (making the $2 parking at least a slightly cheaper option for anybody arriving for long-term parking before 5 pm). The other two members of Ops and Joe (the DDA staffer who handles the finances and deals with the implementation of parking decisions) were against it right now.

    * I think the analogy to the greenbelt is a little far – I think the DDA (both Board and staff) is more interested in revisiting this than the greenbelt’s advocates were in revisiting infill development.

    * If problems are only observed in some areas, and enforcing later hours proves to be not worth it in certain lightly parked areas (Kerrytown’s not all that hoppin’ during the evening), then those areas just . . .wont be enforced. Just because the meters are live doesn’t mean the City has to send the meter readers around to all of them.

    * There’s still value in pricing parking in areas where people are turning over. Throughout my observation area, I observed a nearly 0% vacancy rate after about 5 or 6pm every evening. Pricing parking makes it more likely that people will be able to find a parking space, making them less likely to cruise at length looking for free curb parking (the problem Larry’s talking about). Long-term parkers aren’t the only issue to look at.

    * I was in favor of a trial hour-extension on the Palio’s Lot. Do it for six months and see if parking habits there have changed relative to the on-street meters nearby. (Additionally, do some surveys of people parking there before and after the change.) Ops Committee thought it would confuse people to have different hours at different meters. I disagree: I think the Palio’s Lot is distinguishable enough that it could be given separate hours, and metered into the evening. Bill it as “premium parking”; you’re paying, but you’re getting a space in the area where everybody wants to park. (I often observed cars idling in that lot, waiting for a space.) But I’m not the one voting.
       —Murph.    Jul. 9 '05 - 04:15AM    #
  23. ... for what it’s worth: I am one of those downtown employees… have been for over 10 years. My business is not retail.. we do not depend on clients geting parking spaces outside our door. I understand there are those that do. Also, I only earn a very modest income.
    These things having been said, I’ve tried living downtown, but downtown wages can’t pay for downtown rental fees for very long. I’ve tried riding the bus. I specificlly limited my housing search to the bus line ($$). The bus is not the best option in Michigan weather; when you’re a woman working late; when when you’re pregnant and your driver insists on sudden stops. Now I have a young child with a serious illness and I need to be able to go to him quickly if he is in crisis.
    I feel I have done MUCH to support downtown with my daily spending (dining, shopping, bus fare, parking meters). I have always insisted on shopping locally and supporting other downtown business. And I am getting SCREWED on parking fees/restrictions as an employee.
    How about someone supporting the WORKERS????? Access to nearby parking / the ability to come and go when needed is important to us too. Let us park nearby or for 8 hours if we need to… without us you have no one to RUN your businesses. We are just trying to make ends meet and we have famiies to get to. – The other side.
    (No, I’m not leaving my name. I probably work for you.)
       —downtown employee    Jul. 9 '05 - 04:22AM    #
       —downtown employer    Jul. 9 '05 - 11:29AM    #
  25. I agree with downtown employee. Don’t screw the workers and residents of downtown to make more parking availiable for the yuppie dinner crowd. I think it is horrible that the city prices the monthly structure cost out of reach of most of the working class residents of downtown. For a modest fee (~$240/year vs. $600 for nighttime structures) workers and residents should get residential parking passes that cover unlimited structure parking and off-peak hour street parking. Give the workers a reasonable option and then tax the dinner crowd. I pay a significant number (>=5 a month) of parking fines living on state street, but it is still much cheaper than buying a parking spot or using the structute. However, if the cost to by a parking pass were reasonable (~$25/month), I would gladly use the structures and avoid the hastle of tickets.
       —Kat    Jul. 9 '05 - 01:55PM    #
  26. Kat: I agree that the nighttime structure permit is not that desirable – having to move your car our of the structure five or six days a week to avoid tickets just doesn’t work for somebody who lives and works downtown. It’s fine if you want to live in downtown A2 and commute to somewhere outside, and it’s a good option to have, but I’m not surprised that it’s not a popular option.

    I do think it’s important to “support the workers” (part of why I don’t agree with the Friends that we can just let those parking spaces evaporate because they’re not necessary; tell that to the people with jobs). I think the $2-entry evening parking at 1st/Washington and Tally Hall is an important option; the goPass is an important option (though, as we’ve reviewed, there are plenty of ways in which AATA doesn’t work). I think that some sort of method of keeping a car a half mile away from downtown for infrequent use would be an important option (or else, a working car-sharing system; Dale and I are working on it). I don’t think you’re going to convince anybody with decision-making authority to give you a $20/month unlimited-access structure permit, regardless of where you live/work.

    I do encourage all of you to express to AATA, getDowntown, the DDA, the City Council, etc, exactly what doesn’t work right now. I can help you find contact info, meeting times/places, etc, and help you put your complaint into something that they’ll hopefully take as input rather than complaining.
       —Murph    Jul. 9 '05 - 03:04PM    #
  27. Kat, would you pay $50/month? When I lived where you live and was a U employee, I paid the $50/month for a Blue pass and I thought it was eminently reasonable (maybe even too cheap for the great convenience).

    I’m not sure what the U parking folks think about people leaving cars for a week at a time in a their lots intended for commuters—although I didn’t feel bad about it because I informally shared my car with two or three of my carless housemates.

    I think the parking problem for downtown residents is largely a chicken/egg problem. If transit was more frequent, went further, and ran later, and if downtown had more residents to support services like laundromats and groceries, it would eliminate the need for so many cars, and a lot of parking. The transit & services won’t come without the residents. In absence of transit and services, the residents won’t come without the parking. But parking takes up space for more residents and services. Which is why we need some compreshensive planning instead of trying to do this thing site by site, with a fight for two out of three new developments…
       —Scott Trudeau    Jul. 9 '05 - 03:16PM    #
  28. I don’t think charging for evening meters is a good idea at all. People who don’t live downtown go there in the evening in part because they can find free parking. Or, if they aren’t as knowledgeable about good spots/don’t like parallel parking, they go for the $2 Tally Hall parking. If parking was $1 or $.80/hour for the evening, I would spend fewer evenings downtown, and I don’t think I’m the only one. I haven’t seen that many cities that charge for evening parking, actually, because they want to encourage people to come downtown in the evening, not discourage them. That said, I would probably be ok, though grumpy, with an extension until 7pm.
       —Lisa    Jul. 10 '05 - 10:15PM    #
  29. there are many organizations downtown that depend on volunteers – the Ark, the Michigan Theater, the University Musical Society, even the recent summer festival. we don’t want to pay to park – many volunteers stop volunteering because parking is a pain, or one has to pay! it also cuts in to people being late all the time because they CAN’T find parking.
       —anon    Jul. 11 '05 - 07:44PM    #
  30. Well, finding parking isn’t a problem if one is willing to pay. I know people who willingly pay for parking just so they don’t have to do the parking spot hunt that some of us perversely seem to enjoy. As you mention, anon, these are probably not the people who are volunteering, though!
       —Lisa    Jul. 11 '05 - 11:29PM    #
  31. Why don’t you want to pay to park? Because you are volunteering? The time you are donating has far more value than the cost of parking, e.g., you could be making millions at online poker or getting phat in your hammock on the money end of a sex chat line!

    Yet you don’t demand recompense for your valuable time, just free parking.

    This seems to me to be a bit of “penny-wise, pound foolish” thinking.
       —anon and on    Jul. 12 '05 - 02:21AM    #
  32. I wanted to let everyone know that the Link will be back in the fall. The route will change some around the SU area. The U is going in on the Link with AATA to get it running again. This is good new from my point of view, as I know many people that ride it often were really bummed out that it stopped. I don’t know what the time schedule will be just yet, but when I find out I’ll pass it on to everyone. Also, the Link will be running during the Art Fair like last year.
       —Bob Dascola    Jul. 12 '05 - 02:56AM    #
  33. One of the major problems with parking charges is their regressive nature. This is true for almost every “user” tax. Why not create an “adjustment” system, where people can reduce parking fees down based upon proof (supplied by tax returns) of low income? Because otherwise, it seems like you are wacking a lot of poor hourly workers and students by raising parking costs, to the benefit of wealthy SUV driving Yuppies. I believe that some Scandanavian countries have progressive adjustments incorporated into their traffic fines.
       —Ann Arbor Expat    Jul. 12 '05 - 08:04PM    #
  34. That might work for people who buy monthly passes, but it’d be impossible for the parking structure attendants to read through every person’s tax returns before computing their hourly rates. Although it is a cute image. How about, to simplify things, if they based the hourly rate on the blue book value of the car? “Hmmm, that’s a 2004 G500 SUV. Value about $63,000. Your rate for the past three hours will be two-hundred-twelve bucks.” Although then you’d get a phenomenon of wealthy people keeping a beater around—their “Ann Arbor car”, just to drive into town, perversely driving up the price of beaters.
       —Parking Structure Dude!    Jul. 12 '05 - 09:24PM    #
  35. Simpler yet, to create an incentive for downtown low-wage hourly and part-time employees to park in the structures, create a special low rate (within certain limits) for employer validated employee parking.
       —Larry Kestenbaum    Jul. 13 '05 - 03:29AM    #
  36. Ha, the only SUVs in my neighborhood belong to students. As do all the expensive new cars. The homeowners are the ones with the beaters. The five students across the street from us last year each drove an SUV and when they went anywhere, they each got into their own SUV and drove it away. A few hours later they would all drive back. It was like a little school of fish. The current student residents each drive a brand new car and one of them is a Jaguar (not the little “cheap” version either).

    Seems to me that people are going to have to get used to the idea that if they are driving and parking downtown, they will have to pay, no matter what time of day. There really isn’t any way around that. As Larry suggested, there are ways of making this easier on downtown workers who can’t afford it, but paying for parking downtown isn’t going away.
       —Juliew    Jul. 13 '05 - 02:57PM    #
  37. Y’know, if there was a really cheap rate for employees (40¢ an hour?) in the structures, I’d take it. Otherwise, it’s just too much out of my hourly to pay for parking. Anything I have to pay there comes right out of my check, after taxes, and it’s not like there’s a living wage paid to most people who work downtown.
    In the summer, I bike. In the winter? Well, I try to work from home.
    (You know, having a link-style commuter bus from the parking structures might be nice for commuters, encouraging them to park at places like First and William, even if it was a little bit further. I know during the winter, I want to walk as little as possible…)
       —js    Jul. 14 '05 - 05:54PM    #
  38. I really prefer parking on the street over parking in structures at night because of safety. In fact, if I can’t park on the street, the chance of my going is much lower. For me, it’s a convenience I’m willing to pay for, but I hate the inconvenience of having to scrounge for quarters and I don’t think I’m alone. I lived in one place where you could buy a book of parking vouchers of various lengths (1 hour, 2 hours, 5 hours, 12 hours). Instead of putting quarters in the meter, you scratch off the date and time you park, then you hang it in the side-walk side window. It makes paying for parking a lot less hassle. If you make the paying less hassle, people resent it a lot less.
       —Anna    Jul. 21 '05 - 08:44PM    #
  39. Two factoids:

    1. The DDA pays the entire freight for the GoPass (minus the $5.00 per employee per year) to the tune of $289,000 per year, all from parking revenues. The AATA pays not one cent since their federal grant ran out.

    2. The DDA Board voted to give $22,000 to the Link, asking only that the AATA come up with a mere $10,000 in cash to show their good faith. The allotment listed on the proposal from the AATA was all “in kind”

    That’s all for now!
       —Leah    Jul. 22 '05 - 12:59AM    #
  40. Anna,

    I think that’s important in talking about extending the for-pay hours for on-street parking. If on-street parking is free, your chances of finding a space when you go downtown during “peak” evening hours are close to 0. (Spaces are effectively never vacant, as they are filled by the first car to pass after they are vacated.)

    If the meters are for pay, some people are willing to park a few blocks away and walk (me), some people will just park in First/Washington or Tally Hall for $2 (people who will be around for long periods of time), and some people will pay the on-street parking rate (people in a hurry or people who have safety concerns about parking structures or parking far away).

    Making the street parking for-pay increases the chance that you can find parking on-street, by pushing some people to other parking and freeing up spaces.

    I also think (re: js) that making the Link a good and well-publicized connecter between Tally Hall’s cheap evening parking supply and places people want to go in the evening is important, in order to help people decide that’s a good option.
       —Murph    Jul. 22 '05 - 12:58PM    #
  41. The comment about quarters is completely correct. If regular vending machines can be modified to accept paper dollars, why can’t parking meters. In addition, if postal stamp vending machines can accept pennies, parking meters should do so as well.
       —Ann Arbor Expat    Jul. 22 '05 - 02:40PM    #
  42. Yeah, I don’t know how difficult it is to make bill accepters. I know that the DDA and Republic are considering / have considered alternate payment methods. I don’t know the details, though. I know other places use things like pay-by-cell (log in and log out of a “parking session” with phone calls; billed monthly for the total), or parking debit cards, though those usually require a kiosk for a set of spaces, since it’s too expensive to wire individual meters to the central computer and add card readers to all of them…
       —Murph.    Jul. 22 '05 - 04:12PM    #
  43. Do you really want to put 80 pennies in a parking meter for an hour’s worth of parking? Your first four pennies would be expired before you got number 80 into the slot. And a vending machine is a large piece of very expensive equipment. I don’t think the technology could be fit into a parking meter at a reasonable price. Parking meter debit cards might work, however.
       —Parking Structure Dude!    Jul. 22 '05 - 04:18PM    #
  44. There has been some discussion at the DDA and Republic about a “parking debit card” that would work on all meters. In other words, you would pay ahead of time for a certain amount and simply scan your card at the meter. Technolgy? I don’t know – but I have heard that it’s possible.

    As to hourly employees, would you be willing to park in a structure if it were free? (e.g. Ann Ashley in the evening) It’s a thought we have had over the years but nothing much came of it.

    Also, what about a shuttle to the Pioneer Parking Lot? Would hourly workers pay a little for that? I was told by one restaurant owner that service staff don’t want to plan ahead that much.

    All these ideas have been floating around for a long time, but no one seems to grab on to them.

    I would like to hear people’s reactions.
       —Leah    Jul. 22 '05 - 09:09PM    #
  45. A parking debit card would only be slightly less annoying than a change-only parking meter. Would people charge the “parking debit card” at City Hall? Ughhh. If tanning salons can afford fingerprint ID devices, cities can add dollar recognizers to parking meters. This may indicate my limited exposure to the world, but I cannot recall a single parking meter that had the ability to read paper money. While I despise regressive taxation, the most frequent personal annoyance with meters is the requirement of change. As for pennies, I would toss ten-fifteen straggling pennies in the machine for an extra five-seven minutes. That would be great; it would create a use for pennies, and possibly eliminate a couple of marginal tickets.
       —Ann Arbor Expat    Jul. 22 '05 - 09:42PM    #
  46. “I was told by one restaurant owner that service staff don’t want to plan ahead that much.”

    Restaurant employees are a different kind of animal. Front of the house staff tend to be students and are pressed for time. Others have second jobs and are pressed for time.

    The real bugbear is that shifts end really, really late. No one on my staff uses the bus system… doesn’t work for them because of the three reasons I listed. Carpooling works well, however.

    “As to hourly employees, would you be willing to park in a structure if it were free? (e.g. Ann Ashley in the evening) It’s a thought we have had over the years but nothing much came of it.”

    I can’t really give you a qualified answer to this, Leah. We have our own parking down here, and plenty for our small staff.

    Are you talking about a free parking pass for employees of downtown businesses? Just for structures?
       —todd l.    Jul. 23 '05 - 02:19PM    #
  47. Suppose the parking debit card was
    available at Republic Parking at one or two of their offices, and then the ability to purchase more time for it were at all the parking structures? (I’m thinking of kiosks.) Similar as to how you put money into your library card. Then you just swipe it at any meter. (Please remember, the parking system is run by the DDA, and managed by Republic Parking – has nothing to do with City Hall, although there is no reason why cars could not be made available there as well.)

    As for free parking – there has been some talk abut just opening the Ann/Ashley structure, which is used very lightly at night, for free for everyone – employees, theater goers (that’s where we park to go to the Performance Network), diners, whomever. Thoughts?
       —Leah    Jul. 23 '05 - 05:30PM    #