As part of the on-going implementation of the Downtown Parking Plan which will result in better-managed, more efficient parking system, the City Council voted on Monday, May 17, 2021 to approve updates to the on-street parking system in downtown.
The resolution consisted primarily of a clean-up of the City’s ordinance, where changes were made to various regulatory references to reflect their actual location in code. For example, references to various fines and penalties had to be updated from their old location to their new locations mainly in SMC chapters 8 and 16.
Although the framework for hourly rate increases were passed as part of this ordinance, rate increases in downtown are not expected to take effect until 2022, when retailers and restauranteurs are well past restricted capacity levels.
The ordinance establishes target on-street parking occupancy rate of 85 percent by raising rates. Many of downtown’s most in-demand parking blocks currently have occupancy rates that are higher than 85 percent. More available short-term parking is the anticipated result once rates are increased.
How it will work
- A maximum and minimum hourly rate will be established. The minimum hourly rate is increased from $0.25/hr to $0.50/hr (at long-term meters). The maximum hourly rate will go up from $1.50/hr to a maximum of $3.00/hr.
- A target occupancy rate of 85 percent is established and defined as the objective rate for the parking manager to make incremental hourly rate changes against in order to obtain 85 percent occupancy. If occupancy is above 85 percent, then rates will be increased to reduce it to 85percent. If occupancy is below 85 percent, then rates would be lowered to raise it to 85 percent.
- Changes to the rates will be the responsibility of the parking manager, as opposed to City Council and will be made in increments of no more than $0.50 a time, and no more than two times per year. For the two-hour meters in the core, results would be on-street meter rates increasing to $2.50 before the year is over, and then increase to the target hourly rate of $3.00 next year.
The updates will also modernize the parking system by providing more payment options, adding new parking meters, and ultimately contribute to a more vibrant downtown by increasing parking system revenue available for investment back in to downtown improvements such as the I-90 gateway welcome features, curbside flower planter boxes, and street tree lighting.
While the rate increases will cause growing pains, ultimately the new rates will provide more balance between on and off-street parking rates, redistributing parking in downtown to match time-stays and increasing walkability throughout the core.