Paid parking coming to Ninth Street lot on June 1

Apr. 30, 2014 @ 08:01 PM

 Following through on a recent City Council decision, city staffers announced that a new $1-an-hour fee for using a parking lot on the west side of Ninth Street on weekdays is going into effect on June 1.

The city will collect the fees using an ATM-like “pay station” on the lot. Instead of paying an attendant, motorists will deal with a computer that will take a reservation for use of a space and payment via cash or card.
Council members approved the move in February, deeming it necessary to cover the increased cost of leasing the 42-space lot from its private-sector owner.
A five-year lease of the property is costing the city $429,055. The fee, in effect from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, is supposed to recover all but $120,433 of that.
The council’s decision came over the objections of Ninth Street merchants like Regulator Bookshop owner Tom Campbell, who told members the introduction of paid parking would hurt businesses on the east side of the street.
Campbell remains unhappy about the city’s implementation of the move, complaining to elected officials after learning the Transportation Department planned to install the pay station on the north end of the lot.
He said placement would potentially subject some users to a 150-yard walk, assuming they go to the station, pay and then return to their vehicle.
“Anyone at all in a hurry, or with young children, or [who’s] old, or [is] in bad weather is not going to want to do this,” he said in a message to the council that also faulted the department for failing to consult merchants before selecting the location.
The lot is actually about 62 yards long, end to end, and the longest potential one-way walk in it is about 67 yards long.
The city already uses pay stations for some of its downtown parking lots. Motorists there park, note the number of the space their vehicle is occupying, punch the number into the computer along with the number of hours they expect to remain there, and then pay.
Councilman Steve Schewel told Campbell the Transportation Department is “seriously considering” installing a second pay station in the lot “both as a convenience for people parking there and as a back-up if there is any problem with the first station at any time.”
Campbell responded by urging the choice of a mid-block location for a second station. “Or how about they talk with some of the merchants before they site the second pay station, which is what should have happened in the first place?” he told Schewel.
Transportation Director Mark Ahrendsen couldn’t be reached for comment.
At the same time fee for use of the off-street lot goes into effect, a city contractor will also begin enforcing a two-hour limit on the use of the free curbside parking along Ninth Street.
Changes are also in store on June 1 for four of the city’s downtown parking decks.
They’re getting pay stations as well, to insure the city collects for all weekday use of spaces in the decks between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.
The decks already have attendants, but they go off duty at 7 p.m., meaning people who park during the day can avoid paying at all if they linger until the exit gates go up for the night.
As of June 1, the gates will remain down 24/7 and motorists will have to “pull a ticket” both to enter and leave the Durham Centre, Chapel Hill Street, Church Street and Corcoran Street decks.
They can pay attendants, or use the pay stations, to fork over the required coin for their up-to-7-p.m. use of a space.