Thursday, January 21, 2010

Parking meters

Here is the link to the story in the Flint Journal about bringing parking meters back to Flint (MI - my former place of residence). Thanks, Dick, for reminding me!

I don't know how many of you read the story I wrote for Globe North on the subject of parking, but this is something that former Councillor James Shanley talked about with me. Former Mayor Byron Matthews had all the parking meters in NBPT torn out to encourage people to shop downtown rather than at a mall.

I would much rather feed a parking meter than pay $5 or $8 to park in a lot. If I'm just running into City Hall to pick up the City Council's agenda, why should I have to pay $5? I usually always park in the east NRA lot (when it's free, that is) and I like that arrangement. It's usually pretty empty and I get some measure of exercise walking up State Street.

But if the lot were no longer there, I would be willing to fork over some quarters to park on the street, in the lot, or anywhere else. Especially if I knew the money was going towards infrastructure.


Anonymous said...

why are you willing to pay to park at all? you're a newburyport citizen and taxpayer, and you support the businesses that pay taxes to the city. we shouldn't have to pay to park in our own city, the whole idea is ridiculous

Gillian Swart said...

Well meters would be my choice, if I had to choose. Of course, my first choice would be to not have to pay at all. But I don't think we will be enjoying that luxury much longer.

Dick Monahan said...

I'm a Newburyport Citizen and taxpayer. I don't get free water, building permits, toxic waste disposal, etc., etc., etc. Parking is just another fee.

It is important to put a price on anything of value; otherwise, it gets wasted.

Sarah Swart said...

Count me with Mr. Monahan. Taxes equal services and infrastructure.

James Shanley said...

Mr. Monahan has hit the nail squarely on the head.

A very good treatment of the issue can be found in "The High Cost of Free Parking", by Dr. Donald Shoup. If one doesn't have the inclination to plow through the 600 page book, a very good interview with Dr. Shoup can be found at

There are many other interesting videos dealing with transportation issues at streetfilms.

macsurf said...

What I have never understood is why Newburyport has never implemented a system like the one Provincetown has.

If you can demonstrate, via a tax or rental receipt, that you are living in Provincetown, you can get a couple of different stckers at different rates based on your resident status.

I lived there seasonally for several summers. With my rent receipt, I could purchase a "non-resident" sticker that allowed me to park for free on the street.

I had to move my car on certain days when street cleaning was occuring, or some big event, but that sticker then allowed my to stow my car in a municipal lot for free.

I believe the fee for the season was fifty bucks. It was WELL worth it.

For year round residents the stickers were even less expensive and because they said "Resident" permit parking, the bennies were even better.

To me it's a no brainer. If you live in Newburyport you pay 25 bucks for a resident sticker that gets you into any public city parking lot for free, for as long as you want.

On street, metered parking is a different matter. A resident sticker should exempt a person from having to feed the meter, but with a time limit imposed of a certain number of hours.

It would raise more revenue for the city, and not make residents feel they're being excluded from their own downtown, especially when special events are underway.

Like I said, it's a no brainer in my book

Ari Herzog said...

Hi macsurf--

I recently met with the mayor and shared a similar rationale why a tiered parking system, including discounts for residents, is sensical.

I also mentioned that during a recent visit to Concord, Mass., they have street meters which cost 25 cents per 30 minutes, with a 1-hour max. Those meters also have a button one can press for 14 free minutes, i.e. if someone needs to run into the bank and doesn't want to spend a quarter.

Thanks for sharing that. ;)

Cliff Goudey said...

The Waterfront Trust is happy with the Pay & Display parking kiosk we installed in Riverside Park in early October. Our purpose for doing this was related to our mission - providing waterfront access for the community. Historically, the 65 spaces on Trust property were consistently filled with the cars of employees of local businesses. Public parking, at least on weekdays, was impossible.

Now there are plenty of open spaces - too may from my perspective - but that is not likely to change as long as the NRA west lot is open and free. But we're doing OK, the equipment will be paid off, and I look forward to summer when we will be the best deal in town.

The solar-powered kiosk takes coins and credit cards. Currently a quarter gets you 30 minutes on weekdays. That rate doubles on weekends but it does not seem to discourage occupancy. Indeed, our Sat/Sun receipts dwarf what comes in on weekdays. On all days we see lunchtime spikes and dinnertime spikes. Real-time transactions can be monitored over the Web and I can tell you that at this writing no one is parking there (at least legally).

By all these measures the plan is serving its intended purpose and in my opinion the approach is the ideal model for the other nearby lots in the vicinity (NRA west, NRA east, and Green Street). A good argument can be made for their use along downtown streets given their success in Portsmouth.

All manner of accommodations can be employed to promote fairness; resident decals, senior decals, promotional tokens, no-enforcement periods, etc. But quite honestly, I think the best approach is the consistent enforcement of a modest rate with any proceeds going to improve the downtown.

Gillian Swart said...

Thanks, Cliff. How can I get in touch with you these days? I don't have a good email anymore ...

Ari Herzog said...

I suggest, Cliff, that 50% of proceeds are directed to the city's general fund for downtown maintenance etc... but the other 50% be sent directly to a line item in the School Department.

Cliff Goudey said...

As much as I am in favor of increasing school funding, I don't get the connection between downtown parking and schools. Why not skim something off building permits? The parking proceeds, regardless of how they are used, will help relieve the budget. We know there will be a lot of push back on paid parking. Seeing the program result in downtown improvements and better city services might be enough to take away the sting.