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No matter if you travel by commuter rail, by subway, or by car, the cost of getting around in New York City is going to cost more. On the heels of the increased fares for mass transit, parking meter rates are going up today across the city.
Parking meter rates will increase from 25 cents for 20 minutes to 25 cents for 15 minutes. The meter rate also increased from $2.50 per hour to $3.00 per hour in Manhattan south of 86th street at Muni-Meters, the New York Post reported.
The changes roll out today in Manhattan and Queens while the Bronx won't get hit until March and Brooklyn and Staten Island rates change in April, according to the Post.
"The city is expensive enough," Felix Miranda, a doorman, told the New York Post. "Bloomberg should focus his energy on people who have the money, not on the working class."
This rate increase is the latest blow to New Yorkers, following an increase in subway fares and a major standstill across the city due to the effects of a severe blizzard. With streets still cluttered by mounds of snow, this latest rate increase adds insult to injury for New York commuters
After idling for several years, the possibility that Red Bank may get a second downtown parking garage is back in gear.
Though he never mentioned the word "garage" or "deck," Mayor Pasquale Menna said Saturday that he would appoint a committee to explore ways to address what he called a perennial problem: "surface parking."
"Everybody talks about parking, and they all say the mayor doesn't talk about it enough, so let me stick my neck out," he told an audience that packed the council chambers for the annual borough government reorganization . "Beginning this year, the council will be discussing initiatives that will carve out initiatives for parking on borough-owned properties in the business district."
He later told reporters he was referring specifically to the White Street municipal lot.
"There is no question that there is a parking deficiency," he said in his annual address, "one that has impeded economic utilization of properties.
"We've outgrown what we have," he added, noting that the municipal lots were created in the 1950s. "Surface lots are not going to carry the day."
Twice in the past decade or so, efforts to build a municipal garage on the White Street have proven highly controversial, with many merchants in favor and residents opposed. Both times, Menna, then a councilman, opposed the plans because, he said, they would saddle residents, rather than investors, with $8 million or more in debt.
Menna, who has previously expressed admiration for cellphone-activated meter technology in use in Europe, said the committee, whose members he has not yet named, would also look at state-of-the-art technologies and "green initiatives" that he did not specify.
The town's only existing parking deck, the Globe Court Garage, is owned by the borough but rented toRiverview Medical Center under a 20-year lease that expires in 2022, when the hospital has an option to buy the structure.
Following Saturday's meeting, Menna told redbankgreen that construction of a lot with no debt load for the town "is the only option" that he, borough Administrator Stanley Sickels and others he did not identify had talked about. He said there are no proposals from developers or other firm plans to build a garage.
Menna said two major investment banks he did not identify declined to come into town "because there was insufficient guaranteed parking," and that second-floor offices throughout the downtown were underutilized for the same reason.
Environment campaigners warned that new rules introduced today to ease parking restrictions in towns and cities will lead to an increase in traffic congestion and urban sprawl.
Ministers described the rules as an "end to the war on the motorists" and a reversal of measures introduced under Labour in 2001 to encourage the use of public transport.
Under the new guidance limits on car spaces in new developments will be lifted, and councils will be encouraged to set cheaper parking charges in town centres.
Announcing the moves, the local government secretary, Eric Pickles, said the existing rules unfairly penalised drivers and led to over-zealous parking enforcement. "The government is calling off Whitehall's war on the motorist by scrapping the national policy restricting residential parking spaces and instructing councils to push up charges," he said. Pickles said the new rules will allow councils to set parking policies that are right for their areas.
Richard Hebditch, campaigns director at the Campaign for Better Transport, warned that developers would use the new rules to bully councils into allow sprawling, car-dependent estates. "Our fear is that local authorities will be pushed around by developers to settle for a return to big, sprawling developments geared around the car, rather than more traditional development where the people are the priority rather than cars." He added: "Encouraging more sprawling developments is not going to create the kind of communities that people want. This it is a retrograde step."
He said reductions in inner city parking charges should only be introduced if free parking was phased out at out-of-town shopping centres.
The transport minister, Philip Hammond, said the new rules would not scupper the government desire for sustainable development because they are being introduced alongside measures to provide more charging points for electric vehicles. "This government recognises that cars are a lifeline for many people - and that by supporting the next generation of electric and ultra-low emission vehicles, it can enable sustainable green motoring to be a long-term part of Britain's future transport planning," he said.
Hebditch accused ministers of sending out confused messages. "They talk about the need to reduce carbon from transport but also encourage car journeys. They can't have it both ways. The big thing the policy ignores is how you tackle congestion. We need to cut carbon and congestion now, and there's nothing in today's policies that will do that."
Richard Dyer, transport campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said the government was reversing a Europe-wide trend that had created vibrant city centres by restricting car use. But he added: "The war on the motorist is a myth. Motoring has been getting cheaper compared to greener alternatives for many years, as the rail fare increases this week underlined. Higher parking charges are what we need to encourage alternatives to car use, so it's a great shame they are being abolished."
The Columbus Department of Public Service on Monday starts to install the first 977 new smart parking meters that will take credit and debit cards in addition to coins.
The new meters are powered by solar-rechargeable batteries.
According to the city, the new meters cost $500 each and the city will pay 13 cents for every credit or debit card transaction.
The first of the new smart meters are being installed on Gay Street between Front and North 4th streets, the Short North, the Arena and Brewery districts, the North Market area and on Grandview Avenue.
The department plans to install about 1,000 of the new meters annually until all of the city's more than 4,000 parking meters are replaced with smart meters.
The new smart meters will replace the city's aging parking meter fleet that has been in service since 1999. The frequency of repairs to the current meter fleet has been increasing in recent years as the average effective lifetime of a parking meter is about 10 years.
The city tested 35 of the new smart meters on East Gay Street in a pilot program in 2009.
During the pilot program, motorists and area merchants reacted favorably to the debit and credit card options on the meters.
During the winter, 500 of the old, replaced meters are to be refurbished and installed in locations that currently do not have meters, including the Short North, the Brewery District, Downtown, Italian Village and city streets immediately east of The Ohio State University.
Eventually, those meters also will be upgraded with new technology as the city replaces the entire meter fleet.
In addition to debit (VISA and MasterCard only) and credit cards and coins, the new smart meters also take parking cards, to be sold by the city.
The parking cards, which work like a debit card, will go on sale on a date to be announced in the coming weeks.
The new smart meters do not accept parking cards currently sold by the city for use in current meters. Motorists can continue to use the old parking cards with the old meters.
Visiting drivers are costing UK councils a pretty penny as motorists accrue traffic violations and then leave the country without paying them.
Councils have spent millions of pounds writing off unpaid parking citations as foreign motorists duck out on their bill. The tickets, which encompass a three-year time span, range across numerous councils in the UK and have become a widespread, travel-related issue.
Westminster Council has recorded 45,437 parking tickets that had to be written off because motorists had left to go back overseas. Furthermore, the council still has outstanding violations totaling £3.2m.
Portsmouth City Council is having similar issues as it wrote off £110,965 worth of parking fees between 2008 and last year. Newcastle Council is also among the local authorities with the highest numbers of underwritten parking citations due to foreign visitors.
A Portsmouth Council spokesman said that all tickets have an expiry date, and under council jurisdiction, authorities have to write them off, if the motorist is overseas when the expiry date comes up. Yet, Bill Blakemore, director of Sparks network, said that local councils needed to push more strongly to enforce parking charged on foreign drivers. He added that the phenomenon is an unfair burden for the UK taxpayer.
Some councils have begun to work side-by-side with European government authorities, but Westminster Council cabinet member Lee Rowley said more could be done to implement a more rigorous enforcement.
While residents are making their New Year's resolutions, city and county officials are making plans for various upgrades, improvements and economic development projects across the two Virginias.
Bluefield Mayor Linda Whalen said economic development is one of the major goals the city has for the coming year.
"One of our key objectives is to establish an aggressive economic development plan that will be multi-faceted," Whalen said. "We're discussing several plans as to what we can do as far as properties the city owns as well as encouraging business. We want to get a brand for Bluefield and decide target areas for development. We already offer a (business and occupation) tax break to new businesses in the city. This plan would center around city owned properties and lend financial assistance, if we can get federal approval to do so first. We have to check the legality on these plans to establish this idea in the city before we can move forward. We have to get government approval."
Whalen hopes to focus on several other prominent city projects, including the Colonial Intermodal Project.
"We are pursuing grant facilities to upgrade the recreation building, the Scott Street Parking Garage, as well as the Intermodal Project and a new transit facility," Whalen said. "The Intermodal meeting in January with our consultants will provide more insight into this. They will present a marketing plan involving community members and core groups. As far as money for environmental studies and the engineering aspect, we already have funding. We are working on getting major money for other aspects. We are absolutely hoping to move beyond the planning phase with the environmental and engineering aspects. We don't have a set date for completion. It depends on the federal government to make a determination on if the project will be funded. We are working with Congressman Rahall on securing more funding for the project."
Whalen said city officials are looking at various options to provide needed upgrades to the city recreational center.
"We are looking at several options," Whalen said. "It depends on the amount of funding we can get. If we could get all of the funding we wanted, we would like to get a new facility entirely. Depending on grant opportunities, we will have to evaluate what we can afford. We need to upgrade the building. The facility is used every day for some activity, and you don't have to be there long to see it has deficiencies and areas that need to be improved."
With funds secured, Whalen said state crews should be using city-raised funds to replace the Martin Luther King, Jr. Bridge near the Bluefield City Hall.
"That bridge will be replaced in the new year," Whalen said. "We are waiting on the state since they are doing the work on that. We secured money working with Norfolk & Southern and stimulus money for repairs, but the state will do the actual repairs. It is in the plans for something to be done in the new year. We just have to wait on the state's time table."
Though it must be demolished for structural reasons, Whalen said the city is hoping to build a new parking facility on the site of the Scott Street Parking Garage.
"It looks like, with the latest engineering reports, that material testing has shown the concrete has deteriorated to a point that we would have to replace all of the concrete to save the building," she said. "That would be cost prohibitive and the building must be demolished, much to my chagrin. We've exhausted every avenue and option to save it. We have to build a retaining wall where existing walls are around the street, and we will hopefully put back an attractive parking lot after that. We are waiting on a bid proposal to be completed and then we will put the project out for bidding. We are hoping to get started on the project as early as possible."
According to Whalen, some funds from the sale of Bluefield Regional Medical Center have been allocated for citywide improvements.
"We are also working on capital improvement plans for the city," she said. "We will be using a portion of the funding from the hospital sale for this, though I am not sure exactly how much. This entails making sure the street department and maintenance departments have proper equipment as well as equipment for the fire and police departments. We will also be using it to maintain buildings we own. City hall had its roof replaced and needs other maintenance done. We are hoping to be better stewards of the property we own."
Whalen hopes that citizens will become more involved in city committees and activities in the new year for the benefit of the city.
"We want to continue to urge citizens to get involved with different committees and activities," Whalen said. "We're a better place when the community gets involved. We have certainly many areas of opportunity and we can continue to be better. I hope we can turn some of our handicaps into opportunities. We want our town to have a positive attitude. Bluefield is a hidden jewel in many ways, and we as citizens need to promote that idea. We need to look for ways to pursue economic development for Bluefield."
City Manager Wayne Shumate said the city of Princeton is working on garnering funding and beginning several improvement projects citywide.
"One item we are working on is a $11 million upgrade to the Princeton Sewer Plant for continued economic development," he said. "We received $2.5 million of this funding as an Economic Development Grant. We are in the process of working on a bond issue this year. The bond issue should hopefully be processed by February."
The city is also hoping to provide the Princeton Fire Department with a special gift to celebrate their 100th Anniversary.
"We plan to purchase a new fire truck and related equipment for around $545,000 in August through the Fire Truck Fund and a capital improvements fund," Shumate said. "The city council has been putting money away in that Fire Truck Fund for some time now. The Princeton Fire Department is celebrating their 100th anniversary in August and they are very excited about receiving this new equipment."
Shumate said the city is also working on several other projects, including gateway signs, energy efficient upgrades to Princeton City Hall, purchasing new equipment for the Princeton City Police Department and making improvements to the city pool.
"The city is working on the installation of seven new gateway signs with $150,072 from a transportation enhancement grant we received," Shumate said. "We are also looking to purchase a new garbage truck for our city works department at $100,000. We are in the process of upgrading city hall to be more energy efficient. We are installing windows, doors, ceiling tiles and insulation, as well as four new heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning units. We have received $180,000 in grant money for this project and the city will match that with $40,000 for the project. We are also planning to purchase new vehicles for our police department and new security equipment. We are looking for an upgrade to the city pool, including wiring and concrete work, which will cost around $50,000."
In the new year, Shumate said the city wants to make other improvements to sidewalks and storm water drainage.
"The city council goals are always to make capital equipment improvements and purchases so we can continue cost effective services to citizens," he said. "We will continue to apply for grant funding for new sidewalks and to improve the storm water drainage on Stafford Drive. I think it goes without saying that the city of Princeton works on economic development every day and our infrastructure plans will definitely help with that."
Mercer County Commissioner Joe Coburn said water and sewage projects are chief among the goals the commission has for Mercer County this year.
"We have water and sewage projects throughout the county we are trying to do," Coburn said. "The Oakvale project is a big project we are working on, and we just finished one in Spanishburg. We hope to add more to it when we get funding. We have water and sewer meetings every month so we can get community feedback. We would like to continue working on water and sewage problems. People don't realize how many people want and need water in areas of the county. We have someone bring up the issue at every meeting we have."
Coburn said the commission is also looking for funding to effectively wash and clean the outside of the Mercer County Courthouse.
"We are working on a grant to clean the courthouse for $80,000," he said. "It hasn't been washed or cleaned on the outside in decades. We are also working on securing other grant moneys as well."
Economic development is another constant project in the county and Coburn said the commission will be doing it's best to welcome new businesses as well as maintain relationships with current businesses in the county.
"As far as economic development, we are looking into several things," Coburn said. "We were discussing windmills and different other options we have. We're supporting businesses that come into our community and let them know we are there to help. I think we're very progressive that way. Our development authority is working on the actual recruitment of businesses."
A big issue Coburn said is facing the county is costs from area jails. He said the commission is hoping to address these issues.
"We have to get our jail bill under control," he said. "We need the money to cover more and our prisoners are costing more than we can afford. Our jail bill is one of our major financial issues. We are talking with Charleston and the state jail department to lower the bill. We are currently spending $30,000 a month on the jail in Bluefield alone and prices are climbing."
Despite financial issues across the region, Coburn praised towns across the county for their financial responsibility.
"Every town in our county is having financial issues, and they are doing a great job with what they have," Coburn said. "We've worked hard on the budget and have a tough time as prices are going up. The commission is doing the best we can."
In Tazewell County, Seth White, chairman of the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors, said their economic development projects for 2011 focus primarily on attracting businesses to the Bluestone Industrial Park.
"We are hoping to get a company or business into the Bluestone Industrial Park," White said. "We're going to trade fairs and putting more emphasis on the area this year. We'll have two lots prepared and are spending a lot of energy on that this year. Our main focus across the county is economic development. We want to see infrastructure type projects in the area to attract new businesses and to help existing businesses grow. You can actually grow more jobs by expanding existing businesses than bringing new ones in to the community. We want to be an advocate for our businesses."
White said budget issues may continue in the next year but the county is working to use it's money as wisely as possible.
"We're working on another tough budget this year, and we must be fiscally conservative in order to be fiscally responsible," he said. "We want to be good stewards of the county's money."
White said the county will be working on several water projects in areas including Baptist Valley, Middle Creek, and Tannersville.
"There are some public service projects we will be finishing up during the year, such as the Baptist Valley Water Project," White said. "In the western side of the county, we will also be working on several big projects which we will be publicly announcing in January. The Middle Creek Water Project and a water project for the folks in Tannersville is also on the agenda. We are looking for sources to provide water for them. It's been a very difficult process."
According to White, the Board of Supervisors will be discussing projects and opportunities with lawmakers during the upcoming legislative visit in January.
"It's always a good thing to go to Richmond and talk to our legislators," White said. "We want them to be aware of what we are doing. Also, we want to learn about any new opportunities they may know about for our area."
The Spearhead Trail is another item on the agenda for 2011 and White said the board hopes to expand other trail projects countywide.
"We are moving forward with laying out plans," he said. "We are hoping to work on a trail system in other areas, like Jewel Ridge, as well. We've done mapping for the Spearhead Trail and other trails as well. The Spearhead Trail will be a very good thing, especially for the Pocahontas community. We are very excited about the progress on this project."
The sealing drive undertaken by civic officials and traffic police lasts for a couple of days and the commercial establishments sealed for not providing adequate parking space resume business in less than 24 hours.
A couple of weeks ago, Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) officials and Traffic Police had sealed some supermarkets, hotels and other establishments in Ameerpet and Sanjeevareddy Nagar area for not providing adequate parking space to their customers. But the special drive lasted for two days and all the establishments, which were sealed by the authorities, resumed their businesses without providing any additional parking. They gave an undertaking that they would provide additional parking space soon.
Of 195 commercial establishments, including multiplexes, shopping malls, hospitals, hotels and educational institutions, located in busy areas and found to have inadequate parking space or cellars are being used for other purposes in the buildings, only nine were sealed during the drive. However, they resumed their businesses within 24 hours.
The drive was taken up following directions of the AP High Court and Lok Ayukta to remove encroachments in cellars meant for parking and ensure the managements create sufficient parking for their visitors in commercial buildings.
"We could not continue the special drive as some managements went to court and got status quo orders. The corporation will resume the drive after getting court clearance," GHMC chief city planner G V Raghu told TOI.
The corporation takes up the special drive whenever court gives direction or a report has to be submitted to the court on parking problems.
Officials admit that some establishments have been causing traffic chaos on the roads. On the one hand, there is lack of parking space and on the other business establishments are allowing alighting point on the road instead of on their premises creating traffic congestion.
Notices were slapped on business establishments which have inadequate or no parking space under section 636 of the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation Act, 1955.
A couple of years ago, the GHMC had conducted a similar special drive to ensure hotels, bars and restaurants provide parking space. The GHMC had given an assurance to the High Court that they would act on the business establishments causing traffic problems.
Notices were served on 417 hotels, bars and restaurants in September and October 2007 and nearly 79 of them were closed down by the corporation. Of them, 50 have resumed business within a week and the rest after a week.
As per rules, trade licences should not renewed for bars and restaurants if they do not have enough parking space. However, they get renewed despite not providing sufficient parking space.
Failing to comply with New Hampshire's disabled parking sign statute could result in a $250 fine under a law that took effect Saturday.
Parking spaces reserved on private or public property for the disabled must be clearly marked with a sign attached to a post or building. The new law establishes a $250 fine for not complying with the posting requirement. Under the new law, property owners can only be fined once every 120 days for the same violation.
Starting Monday, the City of Olympia will charge $20 a month for people who work downtown to park in its previously-free 70-space lot at State and Franklin streets, dubbed the Smart Lot. It's the latest tweak to the city's parking system after a year that saw major changes, notably the installation of 50 parking pay stations centered in the formerly free 90-minute zone.
The Smart Lot opened in late 2009 on the north side of State Avenue between Franklin and Adams streets. Parking there has been free, sort of an introductory offer to encourage downtown workers to park there instead of taking up on-street spaces. The lot was put into place in advance of the city's parking pay stations, which began charging $1 an hour in July in 335 spaces in the former 90-minute free zone.
A 50-space parking lot at Olympia Avenue and Franklin Street also will be designated a Smart Lot and the monthly price dropped to $20 from $30 to match the other lot, said Deborah Lobe, city parking-services manager.
Drivers can apply for the parking permits at City Hall, 900 Plum St. S.E. The Parking Services office at 117 Legion Way has been closed in preparation for a move to the new City Hall. Until it is finished in the spring, parking matters will be handled out of the current City Hall.
The Smart Lot spaces are available to qualifying downtown employees who get a permit.
Permits are for one lot only and are not transferable. Parking is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Downers Grove Police issued 33 citations and confiscated three disabled placards during a weeklong operation focusing on handicapped parking spaces. Enforcement was conducted Dec. 13-20 at major shopping malls, to assist the disabled and elderly during the holiday season. Nine written and 15 verbal warnings were also issued.
Motorists are reminded that the person to whom the placard or plates are registered must enter or leave the vehicle parked in a handicapped space. Unauthorized use can result in a $500 fine, driver's license suspension and suspension or revocation of the plate or placard.
You can't miss all the orange barrels in downtown Augusta. As the year comes to close, so are many of those construction projects. You could end up spending more downtown as a result--call it the price of progress.
Work on a new judicial center is coming to an end, and things are picking up on the new Trade, Exhibit and Events center in downtown Augusta.
"There is a lot going on down here," said George Harrison, owner of the Boll Weevil Cafe. "It is actually pretty exciting."
Harrison has managed to carve out a nice stack of cheese with the extra construction traffic.
"Hopefully, it only gets better," he said.
A new four-level parking deck is behind schedule but also expected to open next year.
"What we've got to do is create an environment where there is sufficient parking for the things we have downtown," said city administrator Fred Russell.
The city plans to construct a new stage for small concerts along the Riverwalk. It is expected to open in late January.
"If there is no place to park, people aren't going to come," Russell said. "If there is nothing to do, people aren't going to come anyway. I think we are trying to hit both of those as we move forward."
Parking will come at a price in the new deck.
"As we become more and more successful," said Harrison, "we are going to need more and more parking, and at some point somebody's got to pay for it."
You should also expect a new push to jump-start parking enforcement in the new year. It would be managed by a third party, not the Downtown Development Authority.
"I think that was the issue," said the DDA's Margaret Woodard. "Let's remove it. Let's look at other ways to manage this and make it work."
The city has not settled on a price for parking in the new deck. It is expected to open in June or July. The commission and the DDA have a workshop scheduled for the 24th.
The 743-space parking garage on Palm Avenue opens tomorrow, a $12.2 million structure that also has spaces to park motorcycles and bikes, as well as 12,000 square feet for restaurants and businesses on the ground floor.
The community discussed the need for more downtown parking for nearly 20 years, and the contractor will receive a temporary certificate allowing it to open in time for the New Year's Eve celebration downtown.
The six-story garage will be open every day from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. and will be free for the first month.
The $12.2 million project is finishing nine months after ground was broken in April, although it is not completely done.
The signature detail for the garage - aluminum sails attached to the outside - are expected to be installed the first two weeks in January.
It's a move that will hopefully make parking in Saskatoon's
Starting January 1, 2011 the city will be offering 11 hour hoods for parking meters in addition to the 24 hour meter covers that are rented out by the City of Saskatoon to contractors and building owners so they work on a property.
The city hopes the 11 hour hoods will help to open up more rented parking spots during evenings and weekends.
"Our preference is to open up the stalls to the public as much as possible, to provide that available parking during peak times and the evening," Transportation Branch Manager Angela Gardiner said.
The 11 hour hoods will reserve spots from 7A.M. to 6 P.M. Monday to Friday. The hoods will stay on 24 hours a day, but indicate when the spot is available for public parking.
Once again, Chicago street parking rates are going up, and the downtown rates will continue to be the nation's highest.
The third of five scheduled increases goes into effect Jan. 1, but authorities say it will probably take several weeks to program more than 4,000 electronic parking boxes. Until reprogramming, drivers will be able to park at the old rates.
The Chicago Tribune reports that downtown parking will be going up from the current $4.25 to $5 an hour. Parking in areas adjacent to downtown will go up 50 cents to $3 an hour.
In outlying neighborhoods, the rate will go up 25 cents to $1.50 an hour.
The city parking commissioner lashed out Wednesday at operators of privately owned parking lots near HSBC Arena for charging "exorbitant" rates, while Mayor Byron W. Brown asked the state attorney general to investigate alleged "price gouging."
City officials also ended up having to explain themselves after The Buffalo News discovered that a leased, city-owned parking lot in front of the arena was charging $15 per game Tuesday, with a reduced rate of $40 for all three games.
That was despite a $15 cap for event parking at municipally owned lots.
Higher-than-usual parking rates began surfacing Tuesday as ticket-holders - most of them from Canada - descended downtown for the World Junior Hockey Championship only to find parking lots charging up to $60 for the day.
"The mayor is upset, and when [the rates at privately operated lots] were brought to our attention yesterday, we set about looking at what options we had available to us," said Peter K. Cutler, the mayor's spokesman. "It's clear the best one is to go to the Attorney General's Office to ask through their Consumer Affairs Bureau to look into this."
The mayor has written a letter to the Attorney General's Office requesting such an investigation, Cutler said.
"The reason we think it is inappropriate," Parking Commissioner Kevin J. Helfer said, "is because it is just an exorbitant amount to charge for parking when you are trying to bring people to downtown Buffalo [and] tourists to Buffalo. It just doesn't sit well with us, and obviously it will leave a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths."
But private lots weren't the only problem.
Earlier Wednesday, Helfer extolled the low prices for events at municipally owned lots, boasting that "the best parking is at the Webster Block, where the city can only charge up to $15."
Later, he acknowledged that Allpro Parking, which operates the lot, also was charging a higher rate for the hockey tournament, which he said he strongly disapproved of and was seeking to overturn.
Richard A. Serra, president of Allpro Parking, said he considered that multiple games at the arena constitute separate events. He also said extra staffing was needed.
"We felt we had additional expenses, and we had the right to charge accordingly," Serra said.
Helfer said he told Serra that he didn't agree with his interpretation, and he has asked the city's Law Department to render a judgment on whether the higher rate is in violation of the company's licensing agreement.
"I'm sure [the Law Department] will come back and say you can only charge $15 a day for an event, and that an event is inclusive of an entire day," Helfer said.
But, Helfer said, "We're in uncharted territory - this type of thing where you have three games in one day doesn't come up every day."
Helfer said he plans to review the licensing of all downtown lots for possible rate violations, and will consider proposing new ordinances to prevent changing prices on the same day. Some lots have done so based on which teams are playing.
Two parking lot operators - Mark D. Croce's Skydeck Corp., which runs Pay2Park, and James T. Sandoro's Buffalo Motor Cars - have drawn criticism for charging among the highest rates.
But it doesn't appear they have done anything illegal. Sandoro's license with the city lets him charge up to $100 a day, while Croce can ask for up to $75 per day. Croce also leases a parking lot from The Buffalo News, where the most he is allowed to charge is $25.
Croce's sprawling lot bordering Scott, Perry and Michigan streets was charging $40 for one game and $60 for all three games Tuesday, and $20 for one game and $40 for the two games played Wednesday. The next tripleheader in HSBC Arena is Friday.
Croce said his management team was simply taking advantage of the "free-market system."
"If you charge a price and fill up the lot, then it wasn't too much because the market has a way of defining its own level. People make their own decisions of what the threshold is," Croce said.
"Some people will say [price] doesn't matter, because they want to park their car outside the front door. Others will want to park in the the Theater District, and jump on the free train. It's a free market."
Buffalo, he said, was being too small-minded.
"Buffalo has to start thinking like a big city. This is a big event - it's supposed to generate economic development," Croce said.
Charging more for the hockey tournament, which runs through next Wednesday, was a way to recover losses from slow nights, he said. Croce said that it cost him "thousands of dollars" to bring in a contracting crew on Christmas Eve to remove snow using heavy equipment so the lot could be open for the games.
Instead of the city directing its criticism at legitimate operators, he suggested, it should be going after unlicensed and unregulated lots he claimed were operating downtown.
Sandoro, who normally charges $3 at his Swan Street parking lot, charged $30 on Tuesday both there and at his Scott Street lot, which isn't normally open in the daytime. The price dropped to $20 on Wednesday.
The hockey event is an ideal time to charge more, Sandoro said. "What good is building arenas and ballparks if you don't bring commerce to the city?" he said. "What do we have tourism for? These people are spending their leisure dollars."
"When an event comes along where we can help pay the bills, as opposed to breaking even, that's what a prudent businessperson does."
Sandoro also said that, unlike Buffalonians, Canadians are used to paying more for parking. "They're used to paying those fees in Hamilton and Toronto and don't even blink an eye," he said. "Some do want to pay, and are tickled to have a spot close to the Thruway, and not have to spend two hours to get on it."
But Cutler, the mayor's spokesman, said that what's going on is unacceptable from the city's point of view.
"We have to look at current ordinances to see what is in play and what's not in play," he said. "Changing rates on the fly - that was never the intent of the law."
Last month, the American Institute of Architects of Central Pennsylvania honored Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects with design awards for three of its projects in York. The 300-member group of area architects recognized Murphy & Dittenhafer's for its work on the Market Street Parking Garage, the Project Hope Vision Plan and the new offices for Wagman Construction.
Jurors with the AIA commented that changes made to the Market Street Parking Garage as part of its rehabilitation project allowed the structure to fit "well within the context of the neighborhood."
Murphy & Dittenhafer designed a new glass-walled elevator constructed along the front of the parking structure that affords greater visibility, safety and accessibility.
Aside from designing a new façade, the company's plans included a second internal stairwell in conjunction with new energy-efficient lighting.
In addition to the parking garage, AIA officials recognized the firm for its design of Project Hope, a residential development proposed for a vacant lot in York.
The homes would be designed to offer options live/work rooms, daylighting, full basements and private rear yard spaces. Also, Murphy & Dittenhaffer would design the homes with green roof systems and water efficient landscaping.
AIA officials also recognized Murphy & Dittenhafer's design of the Wagman Construction's new offices in York.
"The jury was impressed that there were no enclosed offices and all work spaces were held away from the exterior window walls allowing for natural daylighting into the center core. The design team held good restraint to not over design this project," according to comments made by AIA officials.
People love free parking. So it's no surprise that a good number of attendees at the new Wilmington Convention Center are searching for alternatives to the adjacent parking deck where it costs $2 for the first hour and $1 an hour after that.
"People naturally are going to look for things in the area that are less expensive," Assistant City Manager Steve Bridges said. The parking deck fees are set by local ordinance.
But on event days, those convention center guests are sucking up parking spaces that belong to neighboring businesses.
"We've definitely had a few interesting weekends lately," said Jackie Hodge, general manager of the Best Western Coastline Inn. "They're not wanting to pay for parking, by no means."
And when the adjacent Coastline Conference and Event Center, the Wilmington Convention Center and the Wilmington Railroad Museum all have events on the same weekend, it's a perfect storm.
"Our lot was absolutely full" during the muscle car show earlier this month, museum board member Bill Bryden said.
Bryden said museum and Coastline visitors have had to seek parking elsewhere.
Convention center officials recently reached out to work on the inevitable parking problem.
"It's going to happen," Convention Center General Manager Susan Eaton said. "It's definitely a challenge down here."
So the business leaders, along with Cape Fear Community College officials, plan to communicate about upcoming events and plan accordingly, Eaton said. College students swarm the student parking deck across from the convention center when school is in session, adding another cluster of vehicles to an already tight area.
The Coastline center also has contracted with a company that monitors the lot and tickets cars that are not Coastline guests.
Signs alert drivers that the lot next to the convention center is private.
Eaton said she hopes to soon have a sign directing convention center attendees to the center's parking deck.
A string of parking meters in Duluth may not get taken down after all. Councilor Jay Fosle will rekindle the issue after complaints from Lincoln Park business owners about stagnant parking.
Fosle says former city councilor Kerry Gauthier told the council he had gotten approval from the business owners. Business owners disagree.
"We found out after the fact. If I had known before the first meeting they were going to vote on it in the the first place then maybe we would've gone and said 'Hey! Don't do this'. But we just found out after the fact and only because the engineer came around," Second Look Books owner Pennie Turcott said.
The issue will be discussed at the council's January 10 meeting.
The Pittsburgh Stadium Authority on Monday agreed to study parking on the North Shore in the wake of continuing development.
"In development, for everything to be successful, parking needs to be successfully addressed," said Mary Conturo, executive director of the authority.
The agency has an option agreement with the Steelers and Pirates that governs development in the area of PNC Park and Heinz Field. Conturo said the authority wants to study how recent development has affected parking and determine if any changes should be made to the development's master plan, first developed in 2003. The authority agreed to spend $20,000 for the parking study.
Conturo said before development started, there were 3,900 surface lot parking spaces; with lot and garage spaces, there are about 3,300 spaces available. The number has shrunk with the construction of several hotels, including the recently opened Hyatt Place, and construction of the Stage AE amphitheater, along with the North Shore Connector.
The study should take several months, Conturo said; the option agreement will be put on hold for the study.
The authority approved new parking rates for surface lots near the stadiums.
Monthly leases in Lot 1 will rise from $100 to $105; leases in Lot 2 will increase from $100 to $110; leases in Lot 4 will be $110.
The Port Authority will release Lot 5 to the stadium authority this week; it's been used for construction on the North Shore Connector. Daily rates from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. will be $6, and nights and weekends, $5.
Lincoln's downtown public service officers -- also known as parking meter readers -- were stunned when the mayor proposed replacing them with private workers. They worried. They lobbied. And then they all but stopped doing their jobs.
The mayor pitched his idea at the end of June, a month when parking officers wrote more than 3,000 tickets for expired meters. That's about average.
The next month, they wrote 1,642. By August, they were down to 696 -- 82 percent fewer than the previous August. Not a bad month to park downtown. And not a problem with their former boss.
"I knew when these employees got their layoff notices, their productivity would go south," Police Chief Tom Casady said. "But I wasn't going to act like the overseer on a Roman galley and crack the whip to make them row harder when they were all trying to figure out what they would be doing for a livelihood."
So when Republic Parking System workers took over downtown parking enforcement Sept. 1, its handful of private ticket-givers looked busy by comparison.
They wrote nearly 4,000 tickets that month, more than 5,000 in October and 4,700 in November.
That's more than average compared to the past few years, but it's not a concern for Ken Smith, the city's parking director. "Everyone is surprised by how smooth the transition has gone," he said.
There was a summer of hand-wringing between the time the mayor revealed his plan and the day Republic took over. The Tennessee company already managed the city's parking garages.
Opponents of the privatization plan pointed out that public service officers did more than write tickets. They helped direct traffic, for instance, and helped find stolen cars.
But so far, so good, Smith said. Complaints seem to be down, he said. Ticket-writing is stabilizing.
"I tell them: 'I don't care how many tickets you write, I want a consistent enforcement policy.'
"It's not a numbers game," Smith said. "If a ticket is written, it's because there's a consistent policy."
That means the three so-called parking ambassadors stick to their routes, he said. If they spot meters about to expire, they don't double back to bag the easy tickets.
The ambassadors also make a point to be friendly -- doing their jobs on foot, talking to the public and not just walking away after writing a ticket.
"We have not had any calls here that have been negative about the ambassadors," said Todd Ogden, marketing director for the Downtown Lincoln Association. "We've had a couple of friendly calls from businesses saying they're pleased an ambassador has walked in and asked them about a situation."
Ogden couldn't say whether association members would prefer more enforcement. Or less. Depends who you ask.
"It's really kind of a mixed bag: The more enforcement you get, the more you free up parking space. But it can rub people the wrong way. It's definitely more of an art form."
Parking in downtown Moline could get a bit easier if the city council approves a proposal to extend parking limits on many of it's streets.
"I know i don't want customers to get fined for spending money in downtown moline," said Mike Reddish, owner of Twenty Sports Grille and Nightclub.
Business owners like Reddish say better parking could bring better business.
That's why many of them are pushing the city to make changes so customers don't leave the curb with a ticket.
"When someone gets a ticket in my parking lot, they get mad at me for some reason. And I feel bad for them because, 'What can I say? Sorry, sorry you spent time in here," said Reddish.
A parking committee formed to address concerns conducted two surveys: one to business owners, another to downtown visitors.
As expected the surveys found that people want closer parking but don't want to pay more for it.
"We need to make downtown Moline more user friendly, more convenient for people to come and shop," said Ted Ronk, Moline 4th Ward Alderman.
For businesses like Twenty along 5th avenue, it's been a long year dealing with construction, the closing of the arsenal bridge, and continued trouble with parking.
"We struggled during construction with (parking) also. Now that construction is done, it shouldn't be a struggle to have to deal with that," said Reddish.
The committee's proposal to the city council includes plans to make all on-street parking 2-hours, increase parking limits in surface parking lots and the Midtowne parking ramp from 2-hours to 3-hours, and lower fees for leased parking to $10 per month.
"Some of the business owners feel that for the clients who come down to visit them, two hours isn't enough time to give them the business they needed," said Ronk.
"I think that at the end of the day, our customers are the most important thing. So whatever that means to make our customers happy and make Moline downtown busy... because we're doing well now. let's keep that momentum going," said Reddish.
The Moline City Council will hear the recommendations during its next meeting scheduled for Tuesday January 4, 2011.
Construction will begin next Monday and continue for about a year on a second six-story parking garage at Glenmont station.
The garage will be across Georgia Avenue from the station, and the kiss-and-ride on that side of the street will close Monday.
The 1,200-space garage should open in early 2012, Metro said, and will bring total parking at Glenmont to nearly 3,000 spaces. The new garage will cost $24.7 million and will be slightly smaller than the existing one, which holds nearly 1,800 cars.
The parking lot at the eastern terminus of the Red line often fills up early, forcing some riders coming from Olney and other northern suburbs to drive to closer-in stations such as Wheaton to park.
The area around the station is also less built-up than most on the Red line, surrounded by open space and relatively low-density uses, such as churches and a strip mall with a large parking lot. Though there is an existing tunnel under Georgia Ave. from the kiss-and-ride on the western side, that entrance is not widely used.
Developer Lou Frangos says that Citizens Bank has "seriously harmed" his reputation by releasing sensitive financial information to competitors and potential investors that Frangos sought to help finance the purchase of mortgage notes the bank held on two downtown parking decks his company operates.
Frangos and USA Parking Systems Inc. filed a complaint Dec. 14 in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court alleging that Citizens is in breach of contract because it had agreed to sell $5.3 million in notes to USA Parking, but then marketed the notes as part of a $238 million real estate portfolio to other investors instead of selling to Frangos.
Cleveland-based USA Parking owns the Plaza Parking Deck and the Stambaugh Parking Deck downtown and contends in court documents that Citizens circulated a confidential memorandum showcasing the USA mortgage to investors as part of its marketing strategy that included "sensitive information concerning Frangos' personal financial interests and worth."
Some of those potential buyers were the same investors Frangos had contacted to secure financing to purchase the notes for USA Parking, court documents say. Frangos also says that the financial information was given to his competitors, according to court papers.
As a result, the investors declined to extend financing and prevented USA Parking from securing a deal and close the purchase by the Nov. 30 deadline, documents say.
"Citizens Bank has seriously harmed my good name and the good name of USA Parking Systems Inc. by broadcasting confidential, sensitive financial information to competitors and potential investors in commercial real estate and development throughout northeast Ohio," Frangos said in an affidavit.
Frangos said in his affidavit that one potential investor told him that the investor wouldn't negotiate with him because he could purchase the notes directly from Citizens as part of its marketing campaign and "then allow me to operate the facilities that secure the notes."
Frangos also said he believes other possible investors that he approached who received marketing materials from Citizens opted not to invest because of the same reasons, court papers say.
"I believe that various other investors whom I approached who received marketing materials from Citizens Bank regarding the USA Parking notes declined to invest in the transaction because they knew they could work directly with the bank to purchase them and circumvent me and my company," he said in his affidavit.
USA Parking also asked the court for a temporary restraining order that would prevent Citizens Bank from advertising or selling the mortgage notes it holds on USA Parking's decks. That motion, however, was denied.
A property search through the Mahoning County Auditor's office Web site shows that Frangos owes $54,039 in back real estate taxes for the Plaza Deck at 53 S. Champion St. and another $17,998 in back real estate taxes on the Stambaugh Deck, 16 N. Champion St.
USA Parking is also $2,397 in tax arrears for an office building it owns at 101 E. Boardman St.
The civil action against Citizens Bank is the latest in a handful of legal issues facing Frangos and his holdings downtown.
Frangos purchased the Plaza and Stambaugh decks in 2001, along with several other downtown properties including the Wick Building, the Stambaugh Building and the Realty Building.
One year after Frangos had successfully transformed Realty into upscale apartments downtown, vendors on the project filed $1.1 million in mechanics' liens on the building, alleging they've not been paid for work they did on the $8 million project.
Meantime, Frangos' partners from New York are suing the developer, alleging they are owed a balance of $100,000 from more than $2 million they financed for that project.
Frangos is trying to sell other holdings downtown, including the Erie Terminal building.
In October, Frangos signed a purchase agreement with US Campus Suites and developer Dominic Marchionda for the purchase of Erie Terminal. Marchionda wants to develop the building into student apartments that could be marketed to students attending Youngstown State University.
Streetline, a provider of smart parking solutions, along with the City of Los Angeles, unveiled Parker for iPhone, an app used to obtain real-time parking info and convenient and time-saving way to nearby metered parking spaces and garages. The app was launched by Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa and City Council President Eric Garcetti along with Streetline CEO Zia Yusuf.
The Parker for iPhone App provides a simple user interface that renders users an instant, location-based map indicating the city blocks with the most available parking spaces. Users can see which blocks have more than four, more than two or less than two spots as well as blocks with "rock star" parking, the areas closest with the most open spaces.
In a press release, Mayor Villaraigosa said that they are excited that Los Angeles is the first city in the country to offer this unique app to residents and visitors. By making parking easier, they can help people get where they are going faster, and reduce pollution and traffic congestion caused by drivers circling in hopes of finding an open spot.
Council President Eric Garcetti said that this app will help drivers save time, reduce traffic and air pollution, and make visiting Hollywood even more enjoyable.
The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) was striving to utilize new technologies like Streetline's to help connect the residents and visitors of Los Angeles with valuable information to make their lives easier. This new system hopes to transform the parking and driving experience in Hollywood, and it is expected that system will be expanded to roll out to other parts of Los Angeles, as well.
Streetline added that it is excited to partner with the City of Los Angeles to launch this innovative service for locals and visitors in Hollywood. The company applauds Los Angeles for exploring and implementing smart parking solutions that can not only transform how people park, but also address the critical need to reduce traffic and pollution.
In the new year, the city of Scranton plans to implement a smarter way to collect parking meter revenues.
StreetSmart Technology, LLC, based in Kennesaw, Ga., has offered Scranton a free trial of its "complete parking control and management system" that uses sensors under the pavement and radio telemetry to detect vehicles moving in and out of parking spaces. Signals alert city employees to parking violations via PDA handheld devices. The test would consist of 100 spaces.
Before their December 7 meeting, City Council listened to a presentation by StreetSmart Account Manager John Miskell, who said that this technology will increase revenue for the city and solve other common issues with traditional meters.
"The parking managers, the enforcement officers, the operations people do the best they can with the technology they have, but the technology they have has built-in disadvantages," Miskell told council, adding that the Scranton Parking Authority's capture rate is around one percent, but the new system could increase that to 10 percent.
Miskell said he took a sample of 100 meters in Scranton on November 27, finding 27 out of order. Another sample of 100 meters on December 4 found 30 out of order, with some being the same meters. Many were broken, faded, or shut down because of dead batteries. These problems, he said would be alleviated with StreetSmart's services.
Additional benefits include increased revenue and parking turnover, compatibility with existing equipment, instant detection of coin jams and other mechanical problems, detection and timing of 15-minute and no parking zones, and more.
"If the Parking Authority follows the vendor's recommended best practices and they gain an average capture rate of 10 percent, the Parking Authority will profit," Miskell said.
While there is no up-front cost to the city, there is a $30 per space monthly monitoring fee; $5 per space per month to cover the cost of full installation, but the city's Department of Public Works could perform the installation instead; and $5 per space per month to cover the cost of the Duncan Eagle 2100 electronic parking meter that will be installed in the existing parking meter housings.
The initial cost of these meters is about $175 each before shipping and without any warranty. Each meter would roughly cost around $300, according to Miskell.
"We'll put our money where our mouth is," Miskell said. "If you don't make more money than before we came, you don't pay us."
StreetSmart meters have already been installed in Easton, Pa., and contracts are pending across the state in Williamsport, Harrisburg and State College.
In a 50-meter test run in Easton from May to September of 2010, meter revenue increased by 50.79 percent, ticket revenue increased by 200 percent, capture rate increased by 100 percent, and the space turnover rate increased by 4.16 percent, according to documents provided by Miskell.
Easton City Administrator Glenn Steckman said he was "very pleased" with the results, saying that Easton has seen a nearly 12 percent increase in meter revenue in 2010. He believes StreetSmart was "a big part of that increase," which works out to about nearly $35,000 in additional revenue. Steckman said he would like to have another 200-300 meters installed in high-traffic areas by April following a parking study.
"We've seen their success, and I'd like to see them in before the next tourist season begins in May," Steckman said.
He also lauded the other benefits of the system, such as better monitoring of employees and parking spaces and less contested tickets. The most controversial feature of the meters, he said, was that the meters reset after use, so no customer can "share" time with another person who uses the spot directly after.
A test run of 50 meters was also performed in Reading from April to September of 2010, but they are not moving forward with the system. While net enforcement revenue increased by 141.71 percent and meter revenue went up 13.39 percent, according to Miskell, the city was also looking to increase payment options for customers.
"My objectives were twofold: one, to increase revenue, and two, to find a mechanism that allowed customers another option instead of coins. While it met the first one, it didn't meet the second. That's why we didn't go forward with it," explained Lawrence Lee, executive director of the Reading Parking Authority, who confirmed Reading's increased revenue during testing.
"It was not a fault of the product; it was the lack of use by the customers. I couldn't go forward with the product, even though I had an alternate method of feeding the meter, if people weren't going to use it," he continued.
Miskell, a Scranton native who has "a soft spot" for his hometown, said that he has been trying to convince the city to try StreetSmart meters since 2009. He met with the Scranton Parking Authority in March 2009, and later with Business Administrator Stu Renda. After receiving no further response, he contacted Councilman John Loscombe, who pitched the idea to his colleagues and set up the December caucus.
"When I was sworn in, one of the promises I made was that we were going to look at innovative ways of generating revenue in the city without raising taxes. After I saw this program, naturally, like anybody, I was skeptical, but I've actually made phone calls and I've seen the program inside and out. We already have the system in place, as far as the meters. It's more income from a smarter system," Loscombe, who spoke often with Easton officials, said.
His fellow council members agreed and decided to move forward with the test. Councilman Frank Joyce estimated $300,000 of additional income in 2011 from the meters in his 2011 budget calculations, which he thought was a safe, "low-ball estimation."
"I think this will definitely be a step in the right direction for the city, especially in the tough financial times that we face," Joyce said. "We need more creative ways of raising revenue."
Staycation Specials/ SoCal bound?
While not exactly a staycation deal, this is a good one for anyone looking to stay in-state this winter.
Oakland International Airport offers free parking for anyone flying to select Southern California airports. Passengers flying to Los Angeles International, San Diego, Orange County or Long Beach airports Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays between Jan. 4 and Feb. 10 can park free in the Daily Lot for up to 72 hours.
Available at www.oaklandairport.com is a coupon valid for up to $66 of parking in the Daily Lot, across from the terminals. Upon exiting, passengers must show the parking lot attendant this printed coupon, as well as an airline e-ticket receipt showing departure dates and destination and a driver's license.
A pricey parking garage is going up next year in downtown Missoula. Missoula Redevelopment Agency director Ellen Buchanan said last week the $9.6 million project headed for the corner of Front and Pattee streets is expected to encourage other investors to put dollars into the heart of the city.
"We think it will be a catalyst for people to invest in that part of downtown. So there's growth that just enhances the tax increment revenue stream," Buchanan said.
Here's where the money comes from, and generally, how it's getting spent, according to the MRA:
-- The Missoula Parking Commission is putting in some $2.15 million in cash. It also will issue some $7.5 million in parking revenue bonds to be paid over 25 years.
-- Some $3 million of those bonds will be paid for with tax increment revenues from the Front Street Urban Renewal District, or tax money that gets invested back into the area; the remaining $4.5 million will be paid for using parking revenue.
The parking commission has multiple revenue streams, such as money from leased spaces, parking garage fees, meter money and fines. The garage will increase the inventory of spaces available for lease, too.
"Once the structure is built, then they've got several hundred new spaces to lease out," Buchanan said. "So they have created a brand new revenue stream."
When the building opens, the parking commission will have new bonding capacity. Buchanan said First Interstate Bank alone is expected to pre-lease 125 of the estimated 400 car spaces, and because there are waiting lists for downtown lots, she expects the garage to get reserved quickly.
The money is generally budgeted as follows:
-- $6.5 million for construction;
-- $1.22 million for land acquisition;
-- $830,000 for design and contingency;
-- $750,000 for debt service reserve; and
-- $346,050 for the cost of issuing bonds (paying financial advisers and attorneys, for instance).
A set of complicated land transfers are expected to be complete Jan. 6 and will place the needed ground in the hands of the parking commission. The building will sit in the big empty space next to The Trailhead and will include a basement for parking, a street level for retail or commercial, and then four or five more stories.
Design is expected to take place this winter and spring, and construction is slated to start in summer 2011.
To fund construction of more parking at the Elmira Corning Regional Airport, the parking lot rates will be raised a little bit after the current lots are reallocated, Airport Manager Ann Crook said.
In what will be the economy lot, the rates will stay as the same as they are now in the long-term parking lot because the new lot is a little farther away, she said.
Parking rate changes approved by the Chemung County Legislature:
* Short-term -- Up to 15 minutes would remain free; 16 minutes to an hour would remain $1; the cost of each additional half-hour would increase from 75 cents to $1; the daily maximum would increase from $7.50 to $8; and the weekly maximum from $37.50 to $40.
* Long-term -- Up to 15 minutes would remain free; 16 minutes to an hour would remain $1; the cost of each additional half-hour would remain at $1; the daily maximum would increase from $6.50 to $7; and the weekly maximum from $32.50 to $35.
No date has been set when the new rates will go into effect, Crook said.
At least 30 days' notice will be given prior to implementing these new rates, she said.
The town's parking czar wants to install surveillance cameras in the Greenwich Plaza commuter garage, where police say vehicle thefts, break-ins and general security are legitimate concerns.
"Sure, the Plaza's had a lot of problems over the years," Police Chief David Ridberg said. "I can remember personally making some arrests there. They were stealing cars for a long time. "
From the beginning of 2007 through the end of 2009, five cars
were stolen from the garage and an additional 16 were burglarized,
according to the parking services department. The figure did not
include acts of vandalism or general complaints about safety.
Allen Corry, the town's parking services director, is seeking budgetary approval to spend $36,000 on the installation of cameras and boxes housing the surveillance equipment.
"Then, it'll be piped into my PC," Corry said of the video feed.
Corry's office, not the police department, would initially be responsible for monitoring the video feed, though the plan is not set in stone.
Ridberg welcomed the addition of cameras in the garage, where the waiting list for 350 reserved commuter spaces was six years not too long ago.
Annual permits for the garage, which is located next to the Greenwich train station and Interstate 95, are $488.
Ridberg said that criminal activity goes through cycles at the garage, with thieves targeting GPS devices and other electronic equipment left in sight inside parked vehicles.
"It's a known target area over the years," Ridberg said. "We don't have enough people to put down there on a steady basis."
The Representative Town Meeting earlier this year authorized $18,000 in lighting upgrades in the garage.
Corry is already planning to dip into his department's budget to pay for a camera installation in the Town Hall parking garage in the short term, a project he said will cost a "few" thousand dollars.
Ridberg said that the town is exploring options for surveillance in all public parking lots.
While he doesn't want to give the impression that officers could constantly monitor video feeds, Ridberg said it is worth the town looking into relaying the camera signal to police.
"Any time we have the opportunity to amass information and get videos in real time, that would be helpful," Ridberg said.
Parking enforcement in downtown State College may be tweaked in 2011, though any potential changes are probably months away, borough and downtown leaders said this week.
Under Manager Charles DeBow, the borough Parking Department has recommended a rethinking of some parking-ticket prices and the hours of parking-meter enforcement downtown.
DeBow said the borough's overarching goal is to improve availability of on-street and surface-lot spaces. Too often, he said, it appears that those spaces are overused by chronic parking-rule violators.
And in the evenings, after meter enforcement stops for the day, it appears that there's relatively little turnover in the on-street metered spaces, DeBow said.
He said that trend is worrisome because it may somewhat inhibit downtown business, chasing away would-be customers who want to park briefly and easily.
"The overall reason why we're doing this (pursuing changes) is to help State College," DeBow said Thursday. He said the borough is looking not to generate additional parking revenue, but to make the downtown more attractive to business customers and other visitors.
His recent, tentative recommendations, presented to the borough Transportation Commission and the Downtown State College Improvement District, include these:
•Increase the parking-ticket fines for offenders who commit more than six meter offenses in one year. Right now, expired-meter violations cost $6 apiece; the price climbs to $15 for those unpaid after three days and to $30 for those unpaid after 30 days. Tentatively, DeBow has suggested that the base fine could be $25 for those with seven or more offenses per year; that would grow to $35 and then to $45 for unpaid tickets. Motorists with more than seven meter offenses annually account for only 2.5 percent of violators, but together they receive about 20 percent of all parking tickets issued by the borough, according to department data.
•Extend on-street parking-meter enforcement from 6 p.m. to 10
p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Hourly rates could be adjusted, and the two-hour parking limit
could be extended to four hours, for the period after 6 p.m., DeBow
said. Borough surveys have shown that on-street parking spaces are
nearly 100 percent occupied by 7 p.m. on weekdays, when the meters
are no longer enforced. Earlier, when meters are enforced in the
late afternoon, between eight and 13 percent of those on-street
spaces are regularly available.
Research has shown that people aren't unwilling to pay a reasonable price for parking -- as long as the parking is easily accessible and convenient, DeBow said. He also pointed to a Downtown Improvement District newsletter published in 1995, when the DID encouraged turnover in on-street parking spaces.
At that point, each on-street space fostered an estimated $20,000 to $50,000 in gross annual sales for downtown businesses, the newsletter suggests. "Their (sic) is no excuse for your employees to occupy the downtown's best parking spaces" for prolonged periods, the DID wrote to business owners at the time.
Today, business owners have deeply mixed opinions on how the borough should proceed with evening parking rules and parking fines, said Jody Alessandrine, the DID executive director.
He said the DID is working with business owners and the borough to develop a "palatable scenario for all business and property owners concerned." He's not sure that any one-size-fits-all solution exists, Alessandrine said.
Both Alessandrine and DeBow said any potential changes, even on a trial basis, aren't likely to take effect until late summer 2011. In March, April and May, the borough is slated to undertake a nuanced study of three blocks of College Avenue -- to monitor turnover rates in the evenings and see exactly how long drivers park there after 6 p.m.
Conceptually, Alessandrine said, what the borough wants -- that is, more parking turnover and availability -- makes sense. But in a practical sense, he said, it's tough to find common ground because different types of business have different wants and needs.
"A lot has to be untangled," Alessandrine said.
The core objective behind tougher fines for repeat meter offenders, DeBow said, would be to push those chronic offenders into the downtown garages and open up more short-term parking spaces for more people.
"Graduated fines are both fairer and more effective than flat-rate fines," DeBow wrote in a recommendation. " ... When a greater percentage of parkers comply with the rules, then more space is available for the intended user: customers and visitors."
As of late September, the borough had issued 49,839 parking tickets so far in 2010. DeBow said the borough would like to see that number decrease as more motorists follow the rules and help sustain on-street turnover in the downtown.
He expects that the proposed changes -- longer hours of enforcement, steeper fines for repeat offenders -- would generate some additional revenue for the parking department, though that's not the goal, he reiterated.
When the borough increased the fine for overnight parking on neighborhood streets from $15 to $25 last year, it saw a 20 percent reduction in the number of those violations. But it also saw a 22 percent increase in revenue from those offenses, thanks to the higher fine.
"We really believe that (these changes are) better for State College," DeBow said of the latest recommendations. " ... I don't think it's going to deter people from coming downtown. The bottom line is, we want to create convenient parking."