Dear City Council members,
I did not attend last night's meeting, in part because of personal commitments but also because I don't have strong views on parking. And I have to admit that I haven't followed all of the details. So, maybe I am missing something, but I find myself extremely puzzled with the proposal and have some questions that I hope get addressed when the Council takes this up again.
First of all, I understand that a big motivation is to try to get employees and students out of prime parking spots. It seems like the current proposal is a very indirect way of doing that, a way that may or may not succeed. Just considering students, I don't know if people think that students are on campus 9-5, but they are not. They are on campus only as long as they need to be to take their classes and that is often for 5 hours or less. Students will probably be thrilled to be able to park for a 5 hour block at a cheaper rate than the university is offering. Has anyone actually studied student habits? If not, you're just making proposals in the dark, hunt-and-peck, trial-and-error, which seems like not the right way to go about it. Maybe if the Council were considering the task force recommendation to have adjustable rates based on real-time availability, things might sort themselves out, but otherwise I foresee problems.
As for employees and X parking, it really seems like a much cheaper solution would be to give these to businesses and employees for free. It would be a nice business-friendly, worker-friendly gesture that would show that the Council really is committed to making the downtown work. (As would a provision for validating parking with a purchase over X dollars). That would be a direct solution rather than the indirect one that is currently proposed, and I think direct solutions are more likely to be successful.
Second, I just don't understand the parameters of the proposal. 7 days a week? 10-10? Is parking really impacted at all of those times? It seems excessively draconian, and I think it makes people question whether this is really about making more parking available or whether it's more about raising money. I know I'm not the first to raise this concern but I do want to echo it.
I am glad that the Council decided to postpone the decision, but there are so many possible options that I am not confident that this can all be sorted out by March 22. I urge you to re-engage with citizens and businesses for creative solutions and consider more options than the one that is currently on the table.