Morgan's Brain

Aug. 15, 2009 at 8:06am

Discuss: No More Free Parking Downtown?

A plan to manage the city's on street parking has been winding it's way through the city for the last several years and is now popping out. The TNT quotes city manager Eric Anderson as saying the pay stations would be installed "incrementally, based on marked demand." The estimated rate being bounced around is $1 per hour.

Personally, I am all for meters in some areas of downtown. I first became aware of the downside of the current system of hour limits (in most areas) several years ago when I stopped in a store to do some shopping and then wanted to grab a bite at the restaurant downtown - a difficult thing to do in less than an hour. Clearly, there needs to be a better parking solution to the current system. However, given today's economic climate, I'm not sure how wise the timing is for the council to spend $2.5 million to install parking meters when there are more pressing concerns - like shoring up the Luzon Building.

That's my opinion. What does the peanut gallery think?

comments [16]  |  posted under tacoma


by fredo on 8/15/2009 @ 8:46am
The city of Tacoma has one priority.

Distribute as much as possible in the form of pay, benefits and pensions to city workers, unionized or non unionized. If saving the Luzon would enhance the position of city workers it would be done today.

by tacoma1 on 8/15/2009 @ 9:41am
Does anyone know where the $2.5 mill is coming from? My guess would be by selling a bond, not cash on hand. If so, the parking meters pay for themselves if I'm not wrong. If that's the case, I'm all for it. In my opinion, some of the revenue should be spent back in the district that the funds are collected.

Parking fees encourage car pools, transit, bicycles and walking. All good things for a downtown core..

Parking fees also encourage people to park for an hour or two, and then move on. They also discourage employees from grabbing the free spots early and camping there all day, the end result will be more parking for patrons.

by intacoma on 8/15/2009 @ 9:55am
eh I'm ok with it as long as we have enough of a demand to go downtown. The entertainment value or reason to go downtown right now isn't enough.

by tacoma1 on 8/15/2009 @ 10:01am
BTW, where are the meters going? Has that been determined? 6th Ave by all the restaurants could use them?

by NineInchNachos on 8/15/2009 @ 10:07am
we're buying a fancy system, can we get the old style coin parking meters cheap as surplus someplace?

by NineInchNachos on 8/15/2009 @ 10:08am
perhaps it's like the red light cameras... the system pays for itself?

by Erik on 8/15/2009 @ 12:21pm
I saw the Tribune article today.

The only legitimate reason to charge for parking downtown is to create enough vacancy to allow people looking for a parking space to find one, about one in seven empty spaces or 15 percent vacancy.

Fortunately, it looks like they are going to try to charge only in a couple of places around UWT and City Hall building, two places with high parking demand.

Marty Campbell puts its pretty well today in the Tribune:

“We don’t want to make the mistakes like what Seattle made, where the rates are set by the City Council,” Campbell said. “If they need more revenue, they raise the rates. … We think rates should be based upon demand, not for political reasons.”

Parking rates should be at the lowest price possible to obtain a 15 percent vacancy and free if necessary according to Shoup.

Therefore, based on the high parking vacancy rates downtown, most of it should continue to be free.

Here's a great op ed I found in the Tribune archives:

Walking around downtown, through, it is easy to see that most of downtown has more than 15 percent vacancy almost all of th time so these places should remain free.

by ixia on 8/15/2009 @ 1:09pm
Free parking is just another word for nothing left to loose...

by jenyum on 8/15/2009 @ 1:23pm
Yeah, I'm not so sure now is the right time to be tacking on an extra couple of bucks to a trip to a downtown restaurant or store. If they do implement this I think $1 an hour is too high for most places downtown. They charge that in the paid lots, on-street parking should be cheaper.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 8/15/2009 @ 2:22pm
I don't get it, even on Farmer's Market day I can find a place to park within a block or so of the office. Are we sure people will want to pay to park in a downtown with dwindling places to shop and eat at? This can't be a good thing. Paid parking will increase the numbers of retail businesses downtown?

by morgan on 8/15/2009 @ 7:55pm
The key is to get rid of free parking- but right now there's only about 3 blocks that would support a $1 per hour parking fee. There is SOOOO much available parking as it is, I never have to walk more than a block or two from where I park. That is unheard of in a fully-functioning urban environment.

I'm totally with RR- why follow Seattle and Portland? Let's buck the trend and go with old-school surplus meters. There's probably still some kicking around from when Tacoma ripped them out last time!

by KevinFreitas on 8/15/2009 @ 9:33pm
I think paying for parking is perfectly reasonable and I echo tacoma1 to encourage the districts to receive the funds their meters contribute to the city coffers.

@morgan, @RR: Yeah, old school meters would be charming but I'm all for a modern system where I can pay with my debit. I never have cash, let alone coin, on hand so would greatly prefer nice modern machines.

@intacoma: There's enough demand downtown around the theater and restaurants there and near UWT, easily. Likewise, areas like Proctor or 6th Ave draw enough folks who don't want to walk a block they'd pay a buck an hour (which is pretty darn cheap, if you ask me).

by jenyum on 8/15/2009 @ 10:47pm
Plastic is so pre-economic apocalypse. If I can't pay for it out of my pocket change, in all honesty, I'm headed over to the Target business development district.

Would that it were not the case, but I'm afraid that's reality for most of us in the 253.

by tacoma1 on 8/16/2009 @ 12:03pm
I'd pay an extra buck to be able to park near Two Koi when I'm craving sushi.

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/16/2009 @ 11:16pm
I only ever have trouble parking on 6th ave, so I second that.

But I'm also a cheap bastard, so I'll likely walk there except in inclement weather.

by tacoma1 on 8/17/2009 @ 9:23am
@ Thorax O'Tool
I too am a cheap bastard and will pay to park only when I have to. Otherwise I will walk or take public transit. The end result will be more available parking when we really need it, less SOV's, more walking, cycling, and transit. End result will be a more livable community. Which is exactly what the parking fees are supposed to do.