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Columbia County is redoubling efforts to enforce handicapped parking regulations this week. Sheriff David Harrison, Jr. says his office will patrol parking lots checking to ensure adequate handicapped parking spots and will provide awareness training to any group or community organization requesting it.
Persons with disabilities have a difficult time finding available handicapped accessible parking spaces and when parking laws are violated, they make it even more difficult to find parking for those with disabilities, said Harrison.
The enforcement effort is intended to raise awareness that persons with disabilities must have appropriate access to holiday activities like everyone else, especially with regard to handicapped parking.
All law enforcement agencies in Columbia County have been asked to participate in targeting handicapped parking violations.
The price students pay to park on campus has already skyrocketed by about 50 percent over the last seven years, but that didn't stop two Student Government Association officials from pushing to hike parking decal prices even more.
On Friday, Chief Justice Matt McCann, who was appointed by Student Body President Michael Kilbride, made a motion recommending that the price of a parking decal go up another seven percent during a meeting of UCF's Parking and Transportation Advisory Committee.
After the chair helped McCann clarify his motion, he asked if any other committee members would second the motion. The committee sat in silence for several seconds, and after none of the administrators on the committee spoke up, Joe DeFrancisco, the other SGA member and student representative, raised his hand to second the motion. An administrator then spoke up to second the motion as well.
Seconds later, the committee voted unanimously to approve McCann's motion, sending a recommendation that the Board of Trustees make the increase official at its January meeting. Doing so would raise annual parking decals by $21 dollars for faculty parking, $12 for staff parking, and $6 dollars for student parking, bringing the cost to $317, $189 and $94, respectively.
In 2003, an annual permit for faculty, staff and students cost only $200, $120 and $60 respectively. Although the price students pay to park since then has increased by about 50 percent over recent years, students don't think the amount of parking spaces available to them has grown at the same rate.
"I don't think its right," said James Winborne, a senior Business Administration major. "If we're paying more, we should be getting better quality."
McCann expressed during the meeting that he hoped to use SGA resources to educate students about why the increase was passed, in hopes it would help quell student uproar.
But when KnightNews.com emailed SGA President Michael Kilbride early Friday afternoon to find out what steps he may have taken to reach out to students and seek their input, he ignored it. It's not yet clear whether Kilbride used any of the iPads or computers he justified spending thousands of student dollars on in order to seek student input to do so for this issue which affects so many people.
Administrators at the meeting did try to explain why a decal increase would be helpful, however. Judith Monroe, Associate VP Administration and Finance and William Merck VP, Administration and Finance, pointed out that parking receives no funding from the state, lacks donations from the public and has to be funded by the University.
They also explained that they get complaints all the time about the parking situation and this increase is necessary to fund more parking projects like the new parking garage being built, leasing the Towers parking garage, and other parking projects around campus.
Still, Valerie Stephen, a freshmen Business Marketing major, didn't believe the additional spots coming with the new garage justified a price for a parking decal she feels is already too inflated for what students get.
"I got a parking pass and I think it was way too much money to spend to park here," Stephen said.
KnightNews.com checked the price of parking at Florida State University, and found a student decal costs only $78 for the entire year - about 20 percent less than what SGA's McCann proposed UCF students pay.
The new parking garage being built at UCF contains 1,300 parking spots and costs approximately $17 million. It is expected to open at the end of spring.
If Kilbride decides to respond to the questions, KnightNews.com will update this story as soon as possible.
Facing severe financial woes, New York is pursuing deadbeats who have long seemed to thumb their noses at the city with impunity, the hundreds of thousands of scofflaws who have accumulated a total of nearly $700 million in overdue parking fines.
In the world of the city's parking wars, their defiance has been something of a longstanding joke: drivers with a stash of tickets stuffed in their glove compartments.
Payback time, the city says, has arrived.
Using a variety of bludgeons in its arsenal and enlisting collection agencies, the city is more assertively tracking down scofflaws to seize their cars or other assets. With a budget gap of $3.3 billion to close, city officials say every dollar owed New York matters.
"We have not taken anywhere near an aggressive enough posture to collect this money," said David M. Frankel, the city's finance commissioner, who has made dragooning those who ignore their tickets a top priority since he started the job last year. "We're going to take a much more aggressive stand."
That includes exercising legal powers the city has never fully deployed.
While the city's practice was to let overdue fines accumulate to $800 or more before giving them to collection agencies, now any amount owed can set off the hunt for payment. The Finance Department recently sent agencies paperwork for $209 million in outstanding fines - owed by 446,000 vehicle owners for 1.4 million tickets - for collection.
Until now, vehicle owners who amassed $350 or more in parking ticket debts could not renew their registration when it expired. The city is now inflicting greater pain by not waiting until the renewal deadline, but instead suspending the registration of any car owner who is delinquent on at least five violations within 12 months.
The city is also starting to more vigorously pursue New York drivers who register their cars in states with lower insurance rates and those who moved away leaving behind unpaid fines.
While it is too early to assess whether the city's strong-arm strategy is working, the effort underscores its determination and financial desperation.
In the past, the city would sometimes allow legal judgments against scofflaws to languish too long unenforced, Mr. Frankel said. But with the total of parking fines owed the city climbing to $680 million since 2002, it was too large a pot of money to leave alone.
Mr. Frankel "was hired to make this agency as efficient as possible and collect the revenue that is owed," a spokesman, Owen Stone, said.
About $440 million is outstanding in judgments for parking tickets, including the $209 million sent to collection agencies several weeks ago. The city is also seeking judgments against as much as $240 million more in overdue fines that date to 2002. Under the statute of limitations, fines are enforceable for eight years.
Most of the major scofflaws are commercial-truck leasing companies, some of which have gone out of business. But the city's list of the top 10 ticket debtors also includes several individuals, led by Anthony Torres, a 41-year-old airport security worker who lives in Kingsbridge Heights, the Bronx, and who the city says owes $57,526 for parking illegally.
In an interview, Mr. Torres explained that the tickets were accumulated by a friend who had worked for him for several years, making deliveries using Mr. Torres's van. The friend, he said, moved to the Dominican Republic. Mr. Torres said that the van was repossessed about two years ago and that while he had been trying to pay off the overdue parking fines, doing so was difficult because he made only $7.50 an hour.
"I learned my lesson: Don't trust your friends," Mr. Torres said. "Hopefully, things will turn around and I'll be able to do the right thing and pay off my debt."
The scofflaw list is led by AA Truck Renting in Long Island City, Queens, which owed $191,643 and is arranging with the city to pay off pending tickets incurred by its customers. The city can seize a commercial scofflaw's assets, just as it can with an individual.
Paul Lanciotti, the company's controller, said the double-parkers were not the company's employees, but rather its customers. But Mr. Lanciotti acknowledged, "Ultimately we are responsible because we are the registered owner."
The breakdown of vehicles registered to New York scofflaws who were ticketed in 2010, and against whom a judgment was entered as of Aug. 1, was led by passenger vehicles ($19,625,892), followed by commercial vehicles ($2,134,841), taxis ($949,065) and rented vehicles ($273,987).
The city can seek a judgment from an administrative law judge against an owner who fails to pay or to appeal a ticket after 90 days. The judgment, which can be enforced by city marshals and the city sheriff, empowers the city to garnishee wages or seize assets to satisfy the debt.
Of the $440 million in administrative law judgments already entered against scofflaws, $354 million is from vehicles with passenger plates, $34.5 million from those with commercial plates and $51.2 million from vehicles with a variety of special plates, including taxis, rental cars, voluntary ambulances and public officials. About $150 million of the $440 million is owed on vehicles with out-of-state license plates, more than half of which is owed by plate holders from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
But the city is also owed $11 million from Florida vehicles, $9.3 million from North Carolina, $6.7 million from Massachusetts, $5 million from Virginia, $4.6 million from Georgia, $4.1 million from Maryland and $2.6 million from South Carolina.
Of the roughly 10 million tickets processed annually by the Finance Department, 5 percent - about 500,000 - are deemed not "processable," meaning the owner or vehicle cannot be identified or found because the ticket was illegible, information was entered incorrectly or some other problem was involved.
Of the rest, about 60 percent are paid, 14 percent are dismissed after an owner presents evidence and 15 percent are reversed after an owner appeals a ticket that was not dismissed. In any given year, about 6 percent of fines are never paid.
"We're going to do everything we can to find them," Mr. Frankel, the finance commissioner, said.
The city's forceful campaign against scofflaws is a combination of policy changes and computer databases that make debtors easier to find. "We are analyzing data, building models and reforming processes that in some cases have been in place for decades," said Mr. Stone, the Finance Department spokesman.
Some states were charging the city $9 for a driver's address, but the city is making greater use of collection agencies that can do the job - tracking down the scofflaw and demanding payment - for less. As a result, the city now has access to registration data from all 50 states, including those where pursuing vehicle owners seemed too expensive.
"For years, the tax collector was viewed as the horrible Sheriff of Nottingham," Mr. Frankel said. "That's not what we're doing. We're trying to protect people who are doing what they are supposed to do from a smaller group of people who say, 'Come find us.' "
Not only have officials eliminated free parking on Saturdays and holidays in the borough, this week the fines for overtime parking were doubled.
Fines for parking meter violations had been $10.
Technically, the new Saturday parking meter law takes effect today, but Borough Manager Brant Kucera said it likely won't be until the beginning of next year until the law is enforced. He said the borough needs to change inserts on the parking meters.
The decision to enforce parking meter laws from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays was initiated by borough merchants. George Reinas, owner of Bove's Jewelry Store on State Street, presented a petition signed by 35 merchants requesting enforcement on Saturdays. Only six merchants didn't like the idea, he said.
"I've been here for 20 years," he said. "I've seen the growth, the rebirth. But the street is
blocked from 8 in the morning to 5 at night (on Saturdays), and it gets worse during the holiday season."
Not all borough officials agreed it was a good idea to charge for Saturday parking.
"I personally don't think it's a good idea," said Mayor Matt Fetick. "But if merchants want it, it's their customers. We'll enforce it."
Said Kucera: "This is merchant-driven. The borough has nothing to do with this idea. The borough is simply acting on a request from merchants."
Fetick said some motorists would park their cars in parking spaces on State Street all weekend, tying up valuable spaces.
"Turnover is very important," said Kucera. "This is not about extra money but about compliance."
The additional funds generated by the Saturday parking and the overtime parking fines will go directly into the general fund, Kucera said.
Borough Solicitor Marc Jonas said the both ordinances are legal because they are not major revenue-generators.
"A significant number of merchants were on that petition, and it's at least worth making an effort to see if it changes things or not," said council President David Miller.
The change to Saturday enforcement of parking meters will not cost the borough anything because the borough has two parking enforcement officers and one of them will get a weekday off and be required to work on Saturday.
Some merchants pay for their customers' parking by giving them parking tokens.
Saturday patrons of the Bayard-Taylor Library will continue to get free parking behind library building.
Council was debating on increasing the overtime parking fines to $15 but eventually decided on $20.
"The general feeling that $10 is a very small amount of money.," said Fetick. "We're enforcing parking, and we want to get reimbursed fairly for our time."
Next time you're searching for a parking space and someone grabs a spot from right in front of you, it might seem like the last space left on Earth, but ponder this: there are at least 500 million empty spaces in the United States at any given time.
The 250 million cars and trucks on America's roads get a bad rap for being environmentally unfriendly. Climate scientists say that automobiles add an array of greenhouse gases and harmful particulates into the Earth's atmosphere, yet little research has been done to estimate the impact parking spaces -- where those automobiles spend 95 percent of their time -- have on our planet.
"I think it's a surprisingly unknown quantity," said Donald Shoup, a UCLA urban planning professor and author of the book "The High Cost of Free Parking." "[Parking] is the single biggest land use in any city. It's kind of like dark matter in the universe, we know it's there, but we don't have any idea how much there is."
First Count of Parking Spaces Across the Country Finds
Environmental Toll Is High
Civil engineers at the University of California, Berkeley recently published the first comprehensive estimate of parking spaces in America and found that the energy use and materials associated with creating hundreds of millions of parking spaces has a significant environmental impact.
The group had already published a study aimed at finding the environmental impact of America's total transportation infrastructure, but when they tried to estimate the impact of the nation's automobile infrastructure, they were forced to use the only existing national parking spaces study -- a count of just the 100 million metered parking spaces in the United States. A number of other environmental engineers were quick to call out the obvious limitations of using such a small number and convinced the team to attempt the first ever nation-wide count of parking spaces.
"We got some feedback from people saying 'We think you guys are drastically underestimating the amount of parking spaces in the United States,'" said researcher and lead author of the study Mikhail Chester.
How Do You Define a Parking Space?
Chester pointed out that if there are 250 million cars in the country, obviously there must be at least that many spaces for people to park at home -- add in spaces for work and shopping and it becomes apparent that there must be many times more than 100 million parking spaces. The researchers' estimates included things like street side parking, building code requirements, parking garages, lots in megastores like Walmart and Target and then parking spots at work and home.
Even defining a parking space is a difficult task, so the group focused on several primary groups of paved spaces; free and metered on-street spaces; surface parking, or ground spaces like those found in front of big box stores and in people's driveways; and multi-story parking structures.
Because of all the uncertainties, they decided to examine the environmental impact of five different scenarios for parking. The first scenario was limited to only the 100 million metered parking spaces in the previous study. The next three scenarios examine what the group considers to be the most likely situation -- that there are somewhere around 800 million parking spaces in the United States, or nearly three official parking spaces for every car on the road.
Planners' Rule of Thumb: Eight Parking Spaces Exist
for Every One Car
The final case was the most extreme of the scenarios. The researchers extrapolated on a rule of thumb used by urban planners that claims eight parking spaces exist for every one car. The group says that there is little science to support this scenario, but the result would be a whopping 2 billion parking spaces. If all of those spots were consolidated into a single location they would cover an area the size of Massachusetts. The most likely scenario calls for about half that area in parking spaces.
"The environmental effects of parking are not just from encouraging the use of the automobile over public transit or walking and biking," the group stated in their paper, "but also from ... activities related to building and maintaining the infrastructure."
"There's actually a larger infrastructure for parking than for roadways," said Chester. "This speaks to the sort of hidden infrastructure components that are there to store our vehicles when they're not moving."
Parking Contributes to Greenhouse Gases
Once the parking estimates were completed, the researchers calculated the energy requirements as well as the emissions from creating asphalt and other things associated with constructing and maintaining those parking spaces. They then added their estimates to the emissions caused by an average vehicle.
Their results are considerable, even when compared to the environmental effects of driving a car. The group found that parking contributes to greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. In fact, the environmental cost of so many parking spaces can also raise the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per mile by as much as 10 percent for an average car. And, when calculated over the lifetime of a vehicle, the amount of other gases like sulfur dioxide can rise by as much as 25 percent and the amount of soot as much as 90 percent.
Sulfur dioxide and soot are both harmful to humans and are associated with things like acid rain and respiratory illnesses.
"We've traditionally thought about the environmental impact of parking as being limited to the heat island effect," said Chester, referring to the process by which large areas of asphalt are thought to heat cities to higher temperatures than surrounding rural areas. "The amount of parking has a rather drastic impact on the energy and emission contributions from vehicles."
Shoup said that the informal calculations he's done produced parking space estimates similar to the Berkeley teams, but adds that he thinks the impact of driving cars still dwarfs the environmental cost of parking.
"Only in the last 5-10 years have we been giving some thought to whether there should be an abundance of free parking," said Chester. "Ninety-nine percent of automobile trips end in free parking and this has a major effect on people's choice of what means of transportation to take."
The West Lafayette City Council gave a thumbs-down Thursday to a
proposal that would have relaxed minimum parking requirements and
allowed taller buildings near Purdue University's campus.
The council voted 5-2 against the proposed ordinance during a meeting attended by 15 citizens, many of whom were residents of the affected areas.
The New Chauncey neighborhood residents argued the proposal would exacerbate parking problems and encourage tall buildings, eroding the quality of life.
"We're not against development," said resident Ted Wachs. "But they should do it in consultation with the neighborhood."
The proposal would have created three regions stretching from Purdue's campus to the Wabash Landing and Levee area. In some areas, buildings up to 100 feet tall would have been allowed, even though few buildings in West Lafayette are even half that height.
Each region would have been assigned less-stringent parking
requirements than current standards.
For example, the ordinance would have required no parking spaces for commercial use in the core Chauncey Village area. Immediately outside the Village, one space would have been required per employee on the largest shift for commercial use. One space per bedroom would have been required in all three areas for residential use.
Officials with the city and the Tippecanoe County Area Plan
Commission -- which earlier recommended that the council pass the
legislation -- said it was meant to make the area more attractive
to developers, provide more of a downtown feel for shoppers and
create a destination environment for residents.
In the wake of the ordinance's failure, the plan commission's offices will rework the ordinance and bring it back before the council, said Sallie Fahey, the commission's executive director.
She said the measure technically was adopted into the Unified Zoning Ordinance because the county's other five jurisdictions already have passed it. However, because West Lafayette nixed the proposal, the measure won't go into effect in the city.
It likely will be six months before an amended ordinance comes
before the city council, Fahey said. She said the commission will
actively communicate with residents as the new plan is put
"On some level, the (ordinance's failure) is disappointing," Fahey said. "But if we end up having a better ordinance that's well supported, it will be time well spent."
Several at the meeting emphasized that the plan commission should make more of an effort to meet with area residents before putting together a new, sweeping zoning plan.
Bev Volkman, a New Chauncey resident who was against the proposal, echoed that wish. "I'm pleased that they're going to go at it -- hopefully this time with a lot more input," she said.
Today brought details of an unusual plan designed to keep the 1st Source/ Marriott building in downtown South Bend--occupied--for at least the next 10 years.
Tenant leases are about to expire and the deal would have the city reaching into its pocket to try and convince the current occupants to re-up.
"I don't think $6 and a half million is a cheap price, but it is a reasonable investment to keep those businesses, jobs, and new investment in the downtown," said South Bend Redevelopment Director Don Inks.
The plan calls for the City of South Bend to spend $6 and a half million to purchase the underground parking garage from the bank and the owners of the hotel building.
"We will own the garage," said Dick Nussbaum, an attorney for the Department of Redevelopment. "Now, part of the deal is they've got to use that $6.5 million in order to make the, and every dollar of that is going to go into improvements to the building itself."
The bank and the owner of the hotel building would counter with $7.5 million worth of renovations of their own.
"There will be more private money than public money going into it, but there will be $14 million worth of improvements, a minimum of $14 million," said Nussbaum.
The agreement states that the city would own the garage, but that the current tenants would operate, maintain, and keep parking revenues.
Although the garage would be city owned-it would not be tax exempt. Property taxes of over $600-thousand per year would continue to be paid by the private tenants of the building.
Under the terms of the agreement the city would give back the garage-free of charge-in 30 years, provided that the private parties lived up to their promises.
While the 1st Source/ Marriott building is made of steel and glass, it contains another very precious commodity according to city officials.
"You're probably conservatively talking about retaining a thousand jobs in this community in the center of the city," said Greg Downes, a member of the South Bend Redevelopment Commission.
Downes was speaking of the bankers, lawyers and financial advisors who come to work every weekday and arguably provide the foot traffic other downtown businesses need to survive.
"We've seen a lot of progress in the downtown over the last 15 years and this is a key step today in making sure that that progress is not interrupted," said Redevelopment Director Inks.
"Where would Century Center be in their ability to retain or attract new convention business without an upscale hotel right across the street," questioned Downes.
Today the proposed plan went before the South Bend Redevelopment Commission where it was unanimously approved.
On December 13th it will go before the South Bend Common Council.
Earlier this week, common council members balked at providing County Option Income Tax monies to fund renovations at Coveleski Stadium.
On the 13, common council members will be asked to approve $3.9 million in County Option Tax monies to fund the 1st Source/ Marriott agreement.
"I don't think $6 and a half million is a cheap price but it is a reasonable investment to keep those businesses, jobs, and new investment in the downtown," said Inks.
"I know that anytime taxpayer money is used in this economic environment its very important for a council to be absolutely sure that they're doing the right thing," added Dick Nussbaum. "I think they will be if you look at all the facts and circumstances here."
The city's portion of the project would initially be funded by $3.9 million in County Option Income Tax monies, and $2.6 million in Urban Development Action Grant funds.
Over time, more Urban Development Action Grant funds would trickle in and repay the County Option Income Tax account.
In about eight years, the amount of County Option Income Tax monies used will be reduced to $1.2 million.
More digital parking meters that offer the option of paying with a debit or credit card will be installed in downtown El Paso over time, city officials said.
The city has been testing 31 of the solar-powered meters for more than five months as part of a pilot program.
The city's international bridges division also controls parking meter services. Director Said Larbi-Cherif said many people are taking advantage of the credit or debit option in certain areas.
Larbi-Cherif said credit card usage was very low on south El Paso Street. But he said the credit card option was popular further north, in the working district of downtown El Paso.
"The single space meters are very popular. They're easy to use," said Larbi-Cherif. "They brought in more money than the normal or current meters."
Larbi-Cherif said the 31 pilot program meters would stay in El Paso but may be moved to different areas to find out where people are more likely to use them.
After analyzing the results of the pilot program, the city plans to roll out more digital meters over time, eventually replacing all 1,700 meters in downtown El Paso, Larbi-Cherif said.
The city of Abilene has diverted nearly $3,350 to a crossing guard program fund through a $5 parking violation fee increase that went into effect earlier this year.
The money is a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of the crossing guards - the salaries and taxes alone for 18 part-time crosswalk guardians cost about $90,000 - but it's $3,350 that taxpayers didn't have to fork over for the program, said Mindy Patterson, the city's director of finance.
The money was raised from drivers who received a ticket after violating Abilene's parking ordinances.
Before the Abilene City Council approved the increase in March, a parking ticket cost $5 for the first offense, $25 for the second offense within 30 days and $50 for the third within 30 days. After the fee increase, the fines jumped to $10, $30 and $55, respectively.
If a violator fails to pay within 10 days, the fine doubles.
The number of tickets issued in the six months after the fee increased this year declined from the same time period last year. But revenue has increased because of higher fees and perhaps because violators had costlier tickets from multiple violations or they paid for previous citations this year.
About 930 tickets were issued from April through the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year, compared to about 1,110 from April through September 2009, according to figures from the city's finance office. That's about a 16 percent decline in the number of citations issued.
The city couldn't speculate about why fewer citations have been issued this year, Patterson said, because staffing levels have remained stable.
Officers from the Abilene Police Department write parking tickets as well as the city's part-time parking control officer, who patrols the central business district (roughly between North 1st and North 6th streets, and between Walnut and Hickory streets). Staffing levels aren't the cause of the decline between 2009 and 2010, but fewer tickets have been written in Abilene in the past several years due to a staff reduction.
The city used to employ two full-time parking control officers, but in 2005, the positions were reduced to part time. Over the next few years, the number of part-time parking officers decreased to one.
Revenue from parking tickets has increased from nearly $7,960 raised in April through September 2009 to about $11,600 in the same time period this year.
About $8,260 of the $11,600 went to the general fund and the rest - the amount collected from the $5 fee increase - went to the crossing guard fund, Patterson said.
The city didn't make a projection or set a goal for the funds raised through the fee increase, Patterson said, because it is difficult to predict how many tickets will be written.
"There was no set expectation about how much funding would be generated through it," Patterson said. "However, the dollar amount generated through the child safety fund (crossing guard fund) means fewer dollars that have to come from the city's general fund to pay for the school crossing guard program."
The Downtown Juneau Transportation Center is nearing completion. On Wednesday, the largest part of the project, the parking garage, opened for public use. The 4 story building is open for free 24 hour parking through December, just in time for the holiday shopping season.
"A lot of people come downtown for gallery walk, and so we want to make that as succesfull event as possible. We'll be putting up Christmas lights on the trees in front of the garage, and we hope to see a lot of people down town." Said Rorie Watt.
Watt is the Engineering Director for the city of Juneau; he gave us an update on the almost complete project which started in 2006. "There are a few pieces of glass still have to go in, bits and pieces of siding. But the facility is fully functional; the elevator works, all of the life safety issues have been taken care of, the sprinkler system is active. It's basically architectural finishes on the garage that aren't quite done. And they should be done in the next week or so."
On the transit center, there's a little bit more work to go. But I'm guessing that's only 2 weeks out. The Bathrooms are looking really good, the tile's in, and the fixtures are in. The driver break room looks good, and the police substation looks good as well, and the passenger waiting area is very close. There's a few pieces of the art glass that are missing, and they should be coming on the barge soon; and I hope that they are going to be installed in the next 2 weeks as well.
Some of the work to be completed includes a special glass front to the building that shows the Juneau waterfront from the 1880's, and changes depending on the lighting conditions. Art is also prevalent in other parts of the design.
"On main street, there is a very apparent piece called Precipitation that Dan DeRoux did. And it's a number of images from Juneau's history. And the idea is that they are sort of falling like rain drops, and below the canopy is a panorama view of downtown Juneau from West Juneau. And so the idea is that the pieces of Juneau's history are falling and coalesced into it's current state." Watt Explained.
Tuesday was the first day on the job for 46 new parking meters in downtown Minneapolis.
Older meters that have been in use since 1992 will be coming down and are being replaced with numbered parking space signs. Drivers will use the space numbers to pay for parking using quarters, dollar coins and credit or debit cards.
The pay meter stations installed will be used to pay for parking for approximately 450 parking spaces. Plans in the next two years call for the addition of another 400 pay stations, or 4,000 more parking spots.
The meters are solar-powered and use Minneapolis' Wi-Fi to allow credit card payments. Paying by credit card isn't the only advantage the new meters offer though. They can be programmed and can handle different pay rates throughout the day. The pay stations will warn drivers of "tow away zones" so drivers will know to move their vehicles. The stations will not allow drivers to pay during these peak times.
The city expects many transactions will be handled electronically. Having only one pay station located at the end of a block will mean traffic control agents will also spend less time emptying meters.
Similar systems are used in Chicago and Los Angeles.
The freshly painted, angled parking lines looked like something in a "What's Wrong with this Picture?"
You know, the kind of puzzle where kids spot the table with three legs and the clock with no hands.
Kansas City workers recently painted the lines on the west side of McGee Street between 17th and 20th streets with the angles running counter to the direction of traffic.
They aren't a mistake.
Apparently we've just been parking wrong for a hundred years or however long it has been since that first driver pulled a Model T over at an angle in front of a general store.
In this new "back-in angled parking" - the first in the city, but catching on across the country - drivers stop in the lane of traffic and then back into a parking space.
As the signs along McGee suggest: "It's as easy as 1-2-3. Signal, Stop, Reverse."
But if the lines were angled the traditional way, wouldn't it be as easy as … 1? Just pull in and be done.
Yes, but experts said this new way, pushed in many cities by biking groups, was safer. One of the most common causes of accidents is people backing out of traditional angled parking without being able to see on-coming traffic. This is particularly true in the age of large SUVs.
In back-in angled parking, drivers pull out forward with full vision for cars, bicycles and pedestrians. While parked, open doors direct children to the sidewalk, not the street.
And shoppers loading groceries into their trunk or rear cargo area stand safely on the sidewalk rather than in the street.
"Why it took so long for us to figure out that this way is better, I don't know," said Dennis Gagnon, spokesman for Kansas City's public works department.
But what happens when a car is riding your bumper and you want to back-in park? The same thing with parallel parking. Only this new way is better because chances are a driver can back in successfully the first time, unlike parallel parking, which for some drivers is like trying to dock a space station.
Back-in parking is being used in Honolulu, Northampton, Mass., San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Seattle and elsewhere.
In Kansas City, the design soon will likely be expanded to other parts of the city, officials said. Not only is it safer, but angled parking also increases parking spaces.
Back-in does take some getting used to. When traveling south and seeing the angles the first time, one could get the sudden sick feeling they're going the wrong way on a one-way street.
Motorist Jeannie Pappas, though, thought the painters had made a mistake. Then she saw the sign to back in.
"Well, yeah, you kind of have to," she thought.
Drivers from the other direction could cross over and pull in forward. But then they have to back out and could find themselves facing on-coming traffic.
Police won't let that happen. After a month or so, police will start ticketing cars that don't back in.
At a press event Tuesday outside the Brick at 1727 McGee St., City Council member Beth Gottstein said she knew not all residents would like the change.
"But come on, people, we need to give this a chance."
There are plants growing out of the walls. There are vines crawling up on the roof. It's a parking deck.
But it's not just any parking deck. Duke University Health System's new garage on Research Drive is the first LEED-certified, free-standing garage in the nation.
"It's truly one of a kind," said Dudley Willis, the university project manager who oversaw construction of the garage. "We've even gotten facilities managers from all over the country expressing interest in how we did it."
The seven-level, $40 million deck, which opened at the beginning of the year, is not just green philosophically. It's green, literally.
The garage's three entrances feature "green walls," tufts of vertically growing euonymus shrubs kept vibrant by a built-in drip-irrigation system.
The walls help to reduce "reflexive heat, the warmth that bounces off buildings," Willis said.
And although its specific sustainability benefits aren't great, acknowledged Paul Manning, director of project management, "it softens the whole feeling of a parking garage and it does have an aesthetic benefit. It's a lot better than a big neon sign saying 'entrance.'"
What does have a more specific benefit are the two underground, 10,000-gallon cisterns just by the green walls that collect rainwater. The two feed the water into ground-level bio-retention ponds before the water is recycled for irrigation.
A couple of hundred feet higher, on the top level of the garage, clematis vines - also with their own irrigation systems - are growing around the roof's perimeter.
They will eventually move up wires and onto steel-alloy, trellised canopies covering most of the roof and will provide natural shade.
"Nobody likes to park on top," said Manning. "This is North Carolina, and it can get to be like 150 degrees up there in the summer. This will keep cars cool in the summer, without using any electricity."
The roof also has multiple stubs for the eventual use of photo-voltaic panels, so the building can generate its own power.
On the lower levels, there are rectangular panels of low-power LED lights and a number of small features that contribute as well to the building's sustainability and that helped it get the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification this month from the U.S. Green Building Council.
"There are features with this garage you just don't see with a typical garage," Willis pointed out.
They include parking spaces designated for low-emission vehicles, a plethora of bicycle racks - "the most enclosed bike racks on campus," Willis said - and digital signs telling those who are looking for parking spaces how many spots are open on each level.
"That's so people don't go round and round, like they usually do, when looking for a space," Manning said. "That's when they really spew a lot of exhaust."
Getting the certification was the culmination of a process that began with the design of the parking deck, more than two and a half years ago. "It's been a long process, painfully long," Manning said. "But it's been worth it."
The town's Police Commission will look at potential changes that would ensure both sides of Delmar have mirroring parking laws.
During the town's joint council meeting last week, the issue of parking ordinances was brought in front of both governing bodies.
The parking ordinance for the town of Delmar, Del., states a car cannot block a driveway or park within five feet on either side, while the Delmar, Md., law states a car cannot block a driveway and does not have any particular verbiage about how close to or far away cars can be from the entrance.
This is most notably an issue in the WoodCreek Community, where residents have had difficulties getting in and out of the driveways because of lack of space.
Once the police commission makes the recommendation to the Delmar, Md., Commissioners, any changes to the law will go through a first and second reading and a public hearing before a final vote.
The meeting was the first official joint council session for new Delmar, Del., Councilman Gregory Smith. Smith was appointed to the council to fill Mary Lee Pase's spot and was sworn in earlier this month.
Pase became the new vice mayor in place of Michael Houlihan, who ascended to the role of mayor after running unopposed in the town election. Houlihan replaced three-term mayor John Outten, who announced he would not seek another term as mayor.
Smith, who has lived on Delaware side of the bistate municipality for 16 years, is a retired former employee of the Salisbury Fire Department, where he was involved with public relations.
Last summer David Deeds bumped into a couple from Maryland who were passing through the area and stopped in downtown Waterloo.
"They were attracted by a sign that said 'downtown riverfront,'" said Deeds, a Main Street Waterloo board member. "That drew them off the highway, but now we've got to figure out how to direct them to (attractions and venues) once they get downtown."
After nearly a decade of planning --- and thanks to federal highway funds and City Hall support --- downtown revitalization groups are close to getting that system of "wayfinding" signs to help visitors navigate the central business district.
City Council members this week approved an agreement with the Iowa Department of Transportation to fund and install 14 wayfinding signs downtown and another 11 guide signs from U.S. highways 218 and 63. Federal funds funneled through the DOT will provide 80 percent of the estimated $350,000 project with the city pitching in the final $70,000 from general obligation bonds.
"We have no wayfinding in town except the green and white signs the DOT has provided us over the years," said Mark Kuiper of Craig Ritland Landscape Architects.
Those signs on the highway have been changed to identify downtown as "Downtown Riverfront." The new wayfinding signs will help get visitors to specific attractions, such as the Grout Museum, RiverLoop Expo, City Hall, Phelps Youth Pavilion, Young Arena, the library and other destinations.
Kuiper worked with the Waterloo Development Corp., Vandewalle and Associates and a large steering committee of downtown stakeholders to design the new signs and select locations.
The result was 14 wayfinding signs using a mix of dark and light blues with white lettering. The freestanding signs, for which bids will be sought soon, would be 14 feet tall and five feet wide. The DOT will install the 11 highway guide signs separately.
"We wanted to be clean and classy and somewhat high-tech, but not overbearing," said Kuiper, noting the wayfinding sign scheme is already in use at the monument signs directing motorists to the East Park Avenue parking ramp.
Deeds found the design "appealing" and functional.
"I think for people who aren't familiar with downtown, it takes a little effort now to figure out where things are," he said. "Anything we can do to help make them more comfortable is a good thing � and it continues to build a cohesiveness and unity in the downtown area."
City Council members had few comments about the signs when they were unveiled during a work session last week, except for Councilman David Jones suffering some sticker shock.
"A lot of effort went into these, and they are obviously quite beautiful," he said. "But I'm troubled by the cost."
City Engineer Eric Thorson said he believes the actual cost, once bids are received, will be below the $350,000 allowed in the grant agreement.
A parking ticket in Glendale will generally set a driver back more than in Burbank or Pasadena, and now, they're set to get even more expensive.
The City Council this week approved a $3 increase to parking citations in response to an equal amount imposed recently by state legislators on cities to help fund court operations.
Of 31 kinds of parking tickets levied within the city's borders, Glendale fines are higher than Burbank's in 23 cases and higher than Pasadena's in 28, according to a city survey of 11 cities in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
Meanwhile, Glendale fines are higher than the average fine among all cities more than half the time, according to the report, although they are generally lower than cities such as Los Angeles and Santa Monica.