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Final Parking Meter Advisory Team Meeting Today

Walker Evans Walker Evans
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The Parking Meter Advisory Team will meet for the final time today, and will be reviewing another proposed alternative to the original 50% rate hike imposed late last year.

The proposal reviewed today is being recommended for adoption by the City of Columbus and includes the addition of over 400 meters to currently un-metered areas, simplified meter rates into a 3-tier system with prices set at $1.00, $.75 or $.40 per hour, and extended meter enforcement to 10pm in specific high-traffic areas.

“The Public Service Department worked hard to be as responsive as possible to comments from the parking meter group,” said Cleve Ricksecker, the Executive Director of the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District and Advisory Team Member. “The result exceeded my expectations.”

In November, the City’s Public Service Department originally imposed a 50% across-the-board rate hike to all parking meters in order to raise $1.4 million to fund reserve bonds for the development of the new Convention Center Hotel. The move came with only a one-month advance notice and zero public input. Many citizens were outraged by the move and responded accordingly with petitions and outcry at City Council meetings. Shortly afterward, the decision was reversed, meters were reset to their original rates and the Parking Meter Advisory Team was formed to come up with an alternate solution.

The full report for today’s meeting can be viewed HERE (PDF) and includes a list of the following 13 recommended changes to the current parking meter system:

  1. Add over 400 meters to serve key neighborhoods including OSU Campus, Arena District, North Market, Short North, brewery District, Downtown, Italian Village, Columbus State and CCAD. The City should continue adding meters where feasible and in support of area businesses.
  2. Reduce the number of meter durations from seven to five by eliminating 1-hour and 4-hour durations.
  3. Shift many 2-hour, 12-hour and 4-hour meters to 3-hour duration in areas with concentrations of entertainment, retail and dining venues.
  4. Shift many meter durations near CSCC, CCAD and the Cultural Arts Center to 6-hour duration.
  5. Shift all 1-hour and most 2-hour meters to 3-hour durations near OSU Campus.
  6. Extend meter hours of enforcement to 10 PM in areas with nighttime metered parking needs like the Short North, Grandview Avenue, Gay Street, North Market, Arena District, and OSU Campus.
  7. Simplify meter hourly rates by reducing the current number of hourly rates of 21 that range from $0.20 to $2.00 over six pricing zones and 6 different durations to 3 new rates of $1.00, $0.75 and $0.40 covering 5 different durations.
  8. Deploy new technology meters first two areas with high utilization and high nighttime metered parking needs.
  9. Shift select enforcement personnel resources and hire a limited number of additional enforcement personnel to support additional meters and extended meter hours.
  10. Conduct customer-focused training to all enforcement personnel annually.
  11. Continue to review meter locations, meter technology, and hours of enforcement (including peak hour parking restrictions) for opportunities to upgrade public parking management and better support area businesses and meter customers.
  12. Begin implementing changes to the meter system immediately, and begin monitor performance as soon as possible.
  13. Conduct regular reviews of meter revenue performance and reconvene the Parking Meter Advisory Team as needed but no less than annually to review performance of the meter system and make recommendations for changes to meet goals and performance measures.

“The result of this decision is a fair and friendly public parking policy that will benefit downtown patrons, businesses and will increase city parking meter revenues to higher levels than what the unilateral increase would have created,” said Jeff Mathes, owner of Due Amici and Barrio and Advisory Team Member. “As a downtown resident, landlord, and restaurant owner I could not be more pleased with the recommendations and more pleased with the consensus the committee was able to build. This is the way policies should continue to be created for our city and a special thanks to Deputy Director Megan Blackford and Randy Bowman for their leadership in this effort.”

Going beyond parking meter rate and time adjustments, the recommendations also include new training for meter attendants as well as a push for the installation of smart meters that will accept credit cards, similar to the ones that were tested on Gay Street a year ago.

“I am especially excited about the customer-focused training for the meter attendants,” said Elizabeth Lessner, owner of the Betty’s Family of Restaurants and Advisory Team Member. “These attendants are some of the first people that visitors are greeted by when they come to downtown Columbus, they should act as friendly ambassadors to our guests.”

Columbus City Council will be holding an upcoming public forum on parking meters and parking meter rates. The Advisory Team will present their recommendations, the Department of Public Service will make a presentation, and the public may offer testimony. The date of the meeting is still to be announced.

“Mayor Coleman appreciates the time and effort of Director Kelsey and each committee member,” said Dan Williamson, Communications Director for The Mayor’s Office. ” He especially appreciates that the committee took seriously its charge to find a solution in the best interests of the businesses and residents of Downtown and the central city.”

More information can be found online at columbuspvb.com.

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