A year has elapsed since Mayor Sanders last pushed the Parking Utilization Plan, an initiative to increase parking rates and extend hours of enforcement of the city's parking meters.
In Hillcrest, residents and business owners blasted the plan, thinking higher rates would drive people away from local business and restaurants and steer them to areas where free parking is available.
In May 2009, Uptown Planners, the community-planning group for Hillcrest, Banker’s Hill, University Heights, and Mission Hills, rejected the parking plan by a 10 to 3 vote. One month later, the Hillcrest Business Association voted to remove Hillcrest from the list of neighborhoods included in the initiative.
The Parking Utitlization Plan has returned. On April 1, Meredith Dibden-Brown from the Office of Small Business sent an email to community representatives in North Park, Hillcrest, University Heights, and Kensington, informing them that new studies are on the way, studies that may be used to increase the number of parking meters in the city.
According to Dibden-Brown's April 1 email, the intent of the parking studies, which are paid for by Community Parking District funds and revenues from parking meters, is to "determine the impact of parking within the parking meter impact zones upon the areas adjacent but outside of the [current] zones...and if parking meters should or may be installed in areas outside but adjacent to the parking impact zones."
Dibden-Brown's email also mentioned the future purchase of new meters in the community parking districts. The new meters, each one costing approximately $500, take credit cards and are powered by solar energy. They will also give the city the power to adjust rates and extend hours of enforcement by way of remote programming.
"If you don't budget it now but have a reserve, then when and if we go to council with a proposal on new-technology single-space meters, we could include a change to your plans as part of that action," Dibden-Brown informed parking district managers.
The correspondence did not go unnoticed. In an email, Uptown Planners chair Leo Wilson warned residents that the initiative was back.
"I have been informed that the Parking Meter Utilization proposal, with the potential of increased parking meter rates and hours, is going to the city council in several months as a possible means for the city to increase its revenue."
The new meter technology will be heard at a future Public Safety and Neighborhood Committee meeting.