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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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Library parking rules changing
Thursday, March 22, 2018 by Jo Clifton
Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo and Mayor Steve Adler are proposing changes to the use of the new Central Library’s parking garage. The city currently offers 30 minutes of free parking for library patrons but community members have requested more. In addition, people who use the library have been concerned because there have been so few empty parking spaces. City Council will consider a resolution today that would increase the free parking to one hour for library patrons, but the library visitor will have to exit within 15 minutes of having their parking ticket validated to get the free hour. Tovo did a survey of area garages and found the library offered a bargain compared to nearby garages. She proposed asking the city manager to analyze the possibility of raising the parking fees and bringing the analysis back to Council no later than May 25. Adler offered an amendment, which Tovo seems inclined to accept, allowing City Manager Spencer Cronk to analyze and adjust the parking fees to offset any lost revenues. The fees are used to offset library maintenance costs. But a big part of the problem may have already been resolved. Library Department Assistant Director Dana McBee told Council during Tuesday’s work session that the library had conducted an experiment starting on March 12. The experiment was to not open the library parking garage to the public until 9:30 a.m. “That has drastically improved access for library customers. We did have people that were utilizing the garage early in the morning, who were parking there for six, seven, eight or nine hours a day. That limited turnover because those people, once they got their space, were there and the spaces did not open up within the day.” The company that operates the garage was able to provide reports, McBee said, which showed that prior to the change about 80 people a day were staying between seven and 10 hours. Since the library instituted the change, the number of people staying between seven and 10 hours is about 17, she said. Council Member Jimmy Flannigan was somewhat skeptical about whether the change would be permanent, since the experiment was conducted during spring break and South by Southwest.
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