More for the parking meter
Businesses want input on plan to raise rates
Saturday, October 17, 2009 3:18 AM
By Robert Vitale
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Start hording change: Columbus is considering a 50 percent increase in parking-meter rates.
The extra nickels, dimes and quarters would bring in an additional $1.5 million a year from people who park on streets Downtown and in the Short North, the Arena District, German Village and other neighborhoods, one city official said.
An increase, the first citywide since 1998, would take effect on Jan. 1.
“It’s a market adjustment,” said Public Service Director Mark Kelsey, whose department has begun briefing city commissions and council members.
…According to Kelsey, money from the increase would be used to swap out Columbus’ aging parking meters with modern, credit-card-friendly replacements.
Multispace meters proved unpopular and unreliable during a 2007 test, but Public Service officials have been impressed with a set of solar-powered meters tested along a Downtown stretch of Gay Street earlier this year.
First, however, the city would take $1.4 million collected from the higher parking rates to help guarantee bonds for a new Short North hotel planned across N. High Street from the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
I don’t want to comment too critically without having more details, but I would like to caution against the concept of uniformly increasing rates. Every neighborhood, every street, and even every block has a different demand for on-street parking. I would encourage the city to take inventory of the parking occupancy on each block and tinker with the rates until the meters are well-used, but not fully occupied. The goal should be to allow a driver a reasonable expectation to find a parking spot, but to also keep the rates low enough to encourage many people (e.g. customers for local businesses) to use the spaces. You can read more about this concept here.
I am concerned about the end of the article though. Why would the city be spending $1.4 Million on a hotel? This doesn’t make sense to me. I expect that the city actually intends to spend the money on infrastructure upgrades to accommodate the hotel. This is still questionable, but would be a lot less shady than just handing $1.4 Million to a developer to build something that the market wouldn’t support otherwise. If anyone has more info about this transaction, please comment below.
UPDATE – The hotel is being built by the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority. I’m not sure the government should be in the hotel business. More here.