Planning Commission Members Explore Metered Parking

Some members of the Charlottesville Planning Commission think the city should examine metered on-street parking, Rachana Dixit writes in the Daily Progress today. Cheri Lewis, Mike Osteen, and Mike Farruggio all think that it’s worth looking into moving away from providing free on-street parking in the core of downtown, and switching to using meters. City Council, on the other hand, is opposed to the idea, with the exception of David Brown. At this point there’s no planned path forward to making this happen, just interest expressed by planning commission members.

22 thoughts on “Planning Commission Members Explore Metered Parking”

  1. The article seems to suggest that metered parking would solve the two-hour shuffle problem that downtown employees, so I’m wondering if the idea is that the meters would have no time limit, so long as you paid up? Most meters I’ve seen have a 2 or 3-hour limit and your tires get marked so that you can’t just keep feeding the meter throughout the day.

    I have a couple of problems with the idea of metered parking downtown. As a consumer with lots of options in Albemarle and Cville for shopping and dining, I’m already inclined to take my money somewhere where I can easily park (though, admittedly, parking at Barracks Road on a Saturday can rival the parking difficulties downtown.) The cost of a parking meter is negligible to most people; to me, it’s the hassle of finding change and sacrificing precious laundry quarters that’s going to discourage me. On the other hand, most of what I come downtown for (entertainment) is not readily available elsewhere, so I might just park in the garage instead. Still, this doesn’t seem like a way to boost business in restaurants and shops.

    The other thing is that this seems like a blow to downtown employees, who do the two-hour shuffle because the cost of garage parking is a stretch.

    Overall, I suppose I’d favor “exploring” metered parking, except that these sorts of explorations usually tend to come in the form of a $30,000 study.

  2. And Farruggio, Osteen, and Lewis just happen to be the ones who vocalized support for meters during the public meeting. It’s certainly possible that the others are on board as well. They have not said otherwise. Also, Council made that decision several months ago, and perhaps as the relevant facts come to the surface they may want to revisit.

    For one, our own parking study essentially recommends meters for on-street parking downtown. Here’s the relevant sections:

    “In a busy, desirable downtown such as Charlottesville, with limited parking supply, it is difficult to provide both (a) free parking and (b) assurance that customers and visitors can always find a convenient space. Charging for the most convenient spaces provides the most effective tool for managing the system and ensuring spaces are available. There are also other reasons for considering charging: it would provide a revenue stream to fund parking management and potentially other downtown enhancements; and would discourage commuters from using on-street spaces that are needed for shoppers and visitors. However, the Stakeholder Group believes that introducing charges for on-street parking is not realistic in the current economic situation. The City should nevertheless try to make progress toward more pro-active management of downtown parking.”

    “Best Practice in Downtown Parking Management … On-street parking fees are used not only to cover management costs but also to create revenue for
    downtown booster programs (potentially also downtown TDM promotion). Boulder, Colorado is a
    well-known example of this approach. Other case studies are given below.”

    “It is important to understand that the supply and price of parking will be the single largest factor in
    encouraging greater use of transit or other alternative modes for commuting. That is, ‘carrots’ in the form of improved transit and other alternatives will have some effect, but a greater effect will come from ‘sticks’ of limited and/or more expensive parking”

    If Charlottesville has any intention of meeting climate change goals, scaling back some of our motoring subsidies is a good place to start. As long as the revenue generated from properly-priced parking is poured back into downtown (including alternative means of getting downtown), a switch to metered parking will only make our downtown more livable and attractive to visitors.

  3. Nero fiddles while downtown Charlottesville devolves from a vibrant merchantile zone to an after-hours entertainment afterthought. See you in Fashion Square.

  4. I can give you a $3.00 study right here and now. You can’t ask current city employees to do more work for less money. This is not the way city employment and feeding at the public trough operates. The city will most likely have to hire 4 to 6 new employees to collect, count, roll and deposit the change in the banks. They will have to have at least 2 new vehicles to get from meter to meter in collecting the change. And the new employees will have to have the total retirement and benefits package too of course. Considering the fact the city will be taking in a great deal more money, they will have to upgrade their current facilities. A newer and larger place, with new state of the art surveillance equipment, so as to monitor the new employees handling all this money. And of course the city will have to have a new director to run this facility. He/she will also have to have the full retirement and benefits package and a new city issued take home car. It’s going to take an ungodly amount of quarters being dropped into parking meters each day just to support the new facility, director and staff.
    Please remit my $3.00 study fee to your charity of choice.

  5. @ oldvarick: Yeah…anyone that think Fashion Square Mall is an alternative to the downtown should feel free to roll that way. Silly chain stores with repeat stuff and skeezy people walking around vs. good food, unique stores and architecture makes this decision simple. Really, you can go and see Fashion Square mall anywhere in the country.

    But hey, next Friday while I see a free show, grab a good bite to eat on a Eascafe patio and then hit the Flat for dessert before heading to South Street for local brew with some interesting shops and art in between you feel free to keep trolling Footlocker and the Gap with some good eats at Sbarro.

  6. danpri, please be careful on Friday. You never know when a police vehicle is going to come barreling through a crosswalk and not expect you to interfere in their movement. If they do, and you scream at them to “slow the heck down”, you will get arrested on some BS drummed up off the wall charges. Then you have to hire an attorney and go to court just so the judge can see you clearly did nothing wrong except commit “contempt of cop” while he dismisses the charges. :)

  7. Wrong. I will not have any troubles with the Charlottesville Police. They will all wave hello to me and I will wave back. And I will have no problems telling Tim any issues with his charges.

    Recently, my grandson wondered off during Fridays to find his Daddy but got lost and, as instructed by his preschool, he quickly found a police officer that not only made him feel safe and secure, but had him laughing while holding him high on his shoulders so that Daddy could see him quickly.

    I was more than pleased to share this with Chief Longo over a cup of coffee. That was committee policing at its best to this Grandpa.

    It is easy to find problems in the world. Anyone can do so. Me, I was happy to watch my daughter-in-law hugging her son while the Daddy was saying, “see, no problems…..”

    I do NOT worry about the CPD. I worry about weirdos with agendas.

  8. I’m not weird, but I do have an agenda. Too bad the tale I joke about is true.

    And, what is committee policing?

  9. Danpri
    Perhaps the reference to Fashion Square was inappropriate. I would like to have a downtown business district that is full of customers Monday through Sunday… not just after hours. It would be even better if we can have both.

  10. Screw this plan. Every square inch of Downtown should not be tailored for the exclusive convenience of tourists and customers. There are hundreds of local people who work here every day, commuting from elsewhere in the city or the county for jobs that pay as little as minimum wage. Getting rid of the scarce free parking that is currently available means hitting those people up for around a dollar an hour or more.

    For someone making $6 an hour handing food or clothes or whatever over the counter to those tourists, you’re asking them to take an immediate 16% hit on their income each and every hour.

    This is a plan that shits on low-income working people. There is already plenty of parking available for tourists in the garages.

  11. Have to disagree that this would be bad for the low-income population. Motoring subsidies in general, including subsidized or free parking, tend to be regressive. The reason is simple. Lower income folks are less likely to have access to an automobile, and when they do they drive less. Forcing everyone to cover the costs of driving is unfair to those who drive less.

    This does not mean that no lower-income people gain from free parking, but that generally free parking tends to disproportionately favor people who are better off.

    A couple of things to think about. One, employees downtown are not supposed to be parking on-street anyway. Doing so creates the hassle of the two-hour shuffle, which is no fun for anyone. Perhaps, if fees are enacted employers will pony up a little to help defray the costs for parking. Or better yet, they just pay a slight bit more to everyone – at least if they want to retain a reliable work force – and the employee can determine if they would rather spend it parking or opt for other ways of getting to work.

  12. Disagree with meters! re low-income population. There are two varieties and I’ve been both of them. Low income without a car equals public transportation costs which is part of your budget. Low income with a car means you aren’t going to add the expense of the daily bus to the car’s overhead (payments, insurance, maintenance) you’ve already got in your budget; gas costs almost never equal bus fare unless you’re coming from way, way far away. Shifting to metered parking means an increase in the cost of doing work for low-income, car owning people. Yes: paying for parking would be a disproportionate increase in transportation expenses for the lowest income workers who commute by car.

  13. Even though an ATM machine is smarter than the average bank teller, I would have to think long and hard before I trust my credit cards around a parking meter. :)

  14. meters!– that’s some ivory tower thinking right there. You’re saying that downtown employees “aren’t supposed to be parking on-street.” Then where, pray tell, are they “supposed” to be parking?

    Let’s talk about reality versus academic fantasy. Many of the poorer workers need to hightail it to their vehicles after work to pick up their kids, or haul ass to their second job. Many of the people I know personally who rely on those free spots, park very far from their jobs, and many earn in the area of $8-10/hour. They’re going to take the biggest hit.

    Not to mention the fact that all those meters are fugly and will mess up an already over-cluttered streetscape.

  15. I thought there used to be meters downtown and somewhere along the line someone got the bright idea to get rid of them. Of course that would’ve been sometime in 70’s or 80’s before downtown was as hip and trendy as it is now.

  16. What if the meters were just on the streets closest to the mall? I used to park this way in DC….non-meter if I could find it, but meter if I was in a hurry.

  17. Wow, put that in your pipe and smoke it DemoRambo!!!

    Good job danpri!

  18. WoW! I have been told off on the Internet?

    Does that hurt as much as being run over by a police car? :)

  19. Simple. Add electronic meters to the streets. They can accept credit cards or some sort of passes. They you can buy longer term passes if you park often. Some city employees or others could get free passes if appropriate. And if your only visiting occasionally, you just use your credit card. I’ve seen that done in other cities including Portland, OR.

    OK, solved that problem. Where do I collect my prize? :-)

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