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Mike Kanin is the Publisher of the Austin Monitor. As such, he doesn't report on much--aside from the workings of the Monitor--any more. In his previous life as a freelance journalist, Kanin has written for the Washington City Paper, the Washington Post's Express, the Boston Herald, Boston's Weekly Dig, the Austin Chronicle, and the Texas Observer.
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Metered parking study reveals loss of $500,000 in additional revenue
According to a report from the Austin Transportation Department report, the extended parking meter hours approved by the City Council in August have been generally successful. However, the report also indicates that the city lost about $500,000 in additional revenue when the Council declined to extend metered parking hours to the length recommended by staff.
Director Robert Spillar announced the findings a memo to Council and city management comparing a host of changes anticipated prior to the new parking regimen to the real outcomes as observed by city staff.
The August Council action was aimed at concerns that developed after Council passed a more sweeping extension of parking hours last March. The March restrictions set paid parking hours from Monday-Saturday, from 8am until midnight. Sundays remained free. The amended ordinance left extended pay parking in place on only Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Hours were cut back to end at 6pm for the balance of the week.
According to Spillar’s memo, that action cost the city roughly half-a-million dollars. It also left the downtown initiatives fund – which, according to the ordinance, is set to receive 40 percent of the parking revenue – $200,000 short.
However, Spillar notes that his department will still meet its revenue goals. “The total Parking Management Fund revenue is on track to reaching original budget goals due to increased revenue from other units within the division such as the newly created car-sharing program, valet, and ground transportation division,” he wrote.
The rest of Spillar’s report was rosy. Staff concluded that extended hours had contributed to more parking turnover, an increase in the use of off-street spaces, alternative means of transportation, and better downtown safety.
Assistant Transportation Department Director Gordon Derr summed up the report for In Fact Daily. “The six-month study shows that a better managed parking system provides more parking opportunities for residents and visitors to come downtown and support our local businesses,” he wrote via email. “Data shows parking availability has improved, more long-term parkers are using off-street facilities, and there has been an increase in transit use. From a safety perspective, the parking enforcement officers provide more “eyes on the street” allowing police officers more time to focus on safety in the evenings.”
In addition to those findings, Spillar recommended a set of future initiatives. These included additional pedicab and taxicab zones, more parking enforcement in neighborhoods outside of Austin’s downtown, and changes to the city’s valet ordinance that could include both “stricter enforcement and fee restructuring.”
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