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More details emerge on city parking plan

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  • Image via Wikimedia Commons

Here at Nuvo, we think it's important to spend our evenings sitting through Power Point presentations about really sexy things like parking meters so you don't have to.

At a public forum last night, mayor Greg Ballard and deputy mayor of economic development Michael Huber revealed new details about the city's ambitious plan to revamp public parking — particularly in the downtown and Broad Ripple areas.

I've written about the parking proposal before — which effectively privatizes parking administration in the city (towing was already privately contracted), by way of a cost-and-revenue-sharing agreement between the city and the private bidder of its choosing. Right now, any plans adopted by the city would only affect city-owned parking: all told, that amounts to less than 30 percent of pay parking in Indianapolis.

(Go here for the gist. And visit the city's dedicated website, here, with all the stats and figures.)

But a few new details emerged that are worth noting:

1. Metered parking rates are likely to increase. Right now, meters citywide cost 75 cents an hour. That ties us with Louisville, Ky., for the lowest rates in the country for a mid-sized city.

"Current thinking," as Huber put it, would do the following:

— rates in Broad Ripple and high-volume downtown areas would increase to a $1 an hour by 2011 and $1.50 an hour by 2012

— other downtown areas would cost $1 an hour for 2011, and $1 plus a sliding, inflation-based amount for 2012. That amount would grow with the rate of inflation, rounded down to the nearest quarter.

— residential areas would stay at 75 cents for 2011, then go up to $1 plus the inflation-based add-on in 2012

2. Rates won't increase until new, electronic meters are installed.
Electronic meters would accept credit cards, so drivers won't be expected at any point to simply find more change.

3. Metered hours would change.
Currently, metered hours run from 7 am to 6 pm, Monday to Friday, citywide. High-volume downtown spots would extend to 9 pm; other downtown meters until 8 pm; residential hours would stay the same; and Broad Ripple hours would extend to 11 pm. Sorry bro-dogs.

4. There are no plans to add new metered spaces in this first phase.
That said, whatever proposal is put forward to the City-County Council will likely include a streamlined process for neighborhoods seeking new meters.

5. Ditto for parking permits. Residents in neighborhoods like Broad Ripple have long suggested parking permits as a way to keep their own parking needs met, and address public safety issues (drunks + parked-in-front-of-your-house + 3 a.m. = vomit in your grass, fist fights on your lawn, or worse).

At the moment, the city is still very much in the idea phase, hence the numerous public forums held by the mayor and his staff around the city lately. From here, the proposal seems fairly reasonable; the up-front benefits of getting a private contractor to cough up a lot of the dough for a much-needed upgrade are obvious. It remains to be seen whether the public signs on for anything that doubles rates.

My greatest concern is whether the payoffs from new revenue will outstrip revenues we'll be forfeiting to a private vendor over the long run.

Make that my second greatest concern. Selfishly, I'm more bummed that my long, Slayer-and-whiskey-filled evenings at the Alley Cat look like they're going to get more expensive. Sigh.

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