Most parking staying same

May 17, 2010
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After not raising a single parking charge last year, parking commissioners bumped up the monthly rate at 11 downtown lots last week by 2.3 percent.

At the same time, commissioners declined to raise the monthly rate at downtown ramps and also decided not to increase the charges for daily or event parking at city-owned facilities.

The monthly increase for the 11 lots — 2.3 percent — is based on the two-year Consumer Price Index from March. The hike translates to rates rising from a low of 50 cents a month at DASH West to a high of $1.75 a month at Area 1, 2 and 3.

Rates at the city’s neighborhood lots and the one at Mason Street and Ionia Avenue NW weren’t increased.

Parking Services Director Pam Ritsema said demand is up at the lots and down at the ramps, as parkers seek cheaper alternatives to the $120-plus a month charges at ramps. Except for eight spaces in Area 6 and 8, Ritsema said all of the DASH lots are full.

Ritsema said rates should be set to a point where Parking Services can recover its operating and maintenance costs for each facility, make its debt service payments and cover replacement costs.

“We’re really not in the business to make a profit,” she said.

Parking commissioners also set the daily maximum charge at $14 for the Monroe Center and Pearl Ionia ramps. Neither ramp had a daily maximum and people who parked for an extended period — say 10 hours — were rattled at the $20 parking charge. The hourly charge is $2.

“We think that’s enough to get some people off the street,” said Kim Miller, parking manager for Parking Services.

The daily maximum is $6 less than the $20 fine for an expired meter.

City commissioners have to approve the rates set by the Parking Commission.

Parking commissioners also renewed their funding commitment last week to the city’s Office of Film, Music and Special Events for $80,000.

“We’ve seen some revenue from filming, especially for car commercials. They usually use off-times,” said Ritsema. “We believe we receive that amount of value from the events.”

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