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Changes coming to City Hall parking

Monday, June 1, 2015 by Elizabeth Pagano

Changes are coming to the City Hall parking garage this summer. Garage users will have to find a new route to their space. And, once there, they may need to have a little more cash on hand.

According to a May 29 memo from Austin Transportation Department Director Robert Spillar, beginning July 27, people parking at the City Hall garage will enter from Guadalupe Street and exit on Lavaca Street – which is the opposite of the current configuration.

“The Transportation Department believes that this reconfiguration will increase mobility and parking accessibility in Downtown and improve overall operation and management of the downtown parking system,” wrote Spillar.

The city will also be raising garage fees. It will still be free to park for less than 30 minutes, or while doing business at City Hall. However, those who pay will see fees rise on July 1. Currently, city parking fees are about 20 percent below market value, according to the memo.

The nightly rate will rise to $10 from $8; monthly contracts will rise to $150 from $125; and the rate for special-event parking will be $15, not $8. In addition, parking attendants will more strictly enforce two-hour validations and charge a $7 flat fee for anything beyond those two hours.

There will also no longer be separate parking for city employees and the public. Instead, all cars will proceed to the parking area through the current employee/contract side of the garage and exit through the current public parking entrance.

Reserved parking for the Office of the City Manager and City Council members will remain as is.

In his memo, Spillar explains the reasoning behind the switch. He wrote that under the current setup, the public side of the garage is often full, which leads to a lack of parking for people visiting City Hall and downtown employees, residents and visitors.

Spillar wrote, “By comingling all parking, the City of Austin maximizes the space available to customers while also preserving space for contract parking and City Hall employees through advanced technology. To ensure there is always space for employees and contract parkers, when the garage reaches capacity or when employee and contract parking is impacted, a garage staff member will begin checking identification in the tunnel portion of the garage, and turning away those without a City Hall garage access card or City identification card.

“New parking technology that will be installed in July will alert the parking attendants to when the garage has reached the point at which parking for employees and contract parking needs to be preserved.”

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