Michael Vogl, revenue collections manager for the city, blames the media for spreading false information about the mayor’s parking meter utilization plan. He says news outlets are unable to explain the detailed proposal in 30-second bites, resulting in the circulation of widespread “media-inspired myths.”
At the Uptown Planners meeting on May 5, Vogl went over those myths while pushing the initiative to increase meter use for the purpose of raising revenue for the city.
According to Vogl, the myths conjured up by the media include claims that all rates would increase to $2.50 an hour, operating hours would be lengthened, and local businesses and residents would be negatively impacted.
That’s not the case, says Vogl. He says some rates would be increased, but most would be lowered and added hours would be instituted only at key “hotspots.”
In Vogl's view, the plan would bolster competition between the city and off-street parking garages; and parking spots would be added, not lost, all the while generating $4.3 million worth of revenue for the city.
Vogl says parking-meter utilization was increased by 106 percent during a pilot program in the downtown area.
After Vogl’s pitch, during comments from audience members and community planners, it was obvious that either residents of Uptown believe the media’s “myths” or they don’t want to raise rates or increase hours at parking meters in their community as a way to fill the city’s budget gap.
Planners and audience members think the city is placing the burden on Hillcrest instead of looking at adding parking meters at the beaches or other popular areas. Some accused the city of a “money grab” to balance the budget, while others were skeptical of the numbers used to promote the plan.
Uptown planner and CityBeat political columnist John Lamb claimed the 106 percent increase the city uses misrepresents the actual data. He pointed out the numbers went from 18 percent before the parking study to 38 percent after the pilot program was administered, a far cry from the city’s target of 85 percent.
Many planners also expressed frustration with Uptown Partnership, the community-based agency responsible for addressing parking issues.
A handful of representatives from Uptown Partnership were sitting directly behind this correspondent and could be heard chattering amongst each other and jeering after remarks from planners and audience members.
After one planner said they believe there’s “tremendous overhead” at Uptown Partnership, a representative from the group was overheard mocking the speaker.
“Oh, come on. Get real, and get with the program.”
The displeasure with the parking initiative and with the leadership of Uptown Partnership was evident in the motions made by the 14 planners in attendance.
Three motions were presented. The first was to deny any proposals to adjust rates and operating hours at Uptown parking meters. That measure passed 10 to 3.
The next motion asked for the abolishment of Uptown Partnership; 6 voted in favor, 6 voted against, and 2 abstained. Chair Leo Wilson cast the tiebreaking vote against abolishment of the parking agency.
The last motion called for the removal of all parking meters in Hillcrest. That motion failed: 6 for removal, 7 against, and 1 abstention.
Go to uptownplanners.org or uptownpartnership.org