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Grand Rapids stalls on parking rate changes

City manager says time is needed to evaluate recent changes before moving forward with new ones.

December 21, 2018
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The city of Grand Rapids has hit the brakes on staff-initiated changes to on- and off-street parking management and rates.

City Manager Mark Washington issued a moratorium on staff-initiated parking management and rate changes Dec. 13. Washington cited a series of parking and mobility solutions the city already implemented over the past few years and said the city needs time to evaluate those changes before moving forward with others.

“I want to be very thoughtful and deliberate about our mobility strategies as we contemplate future solutions to meet the mobility and transportation needs of our growing community,” Washington said.

Washington’s moratorium has come shortly after the city released a parking rate and demand study with draft recommendations. Among the recommendations are to increase the monthly rate for nonresidential reserved parking by $50 a month and to increase enforcement hours of on-street parking by a couple hours during weekdays, along with possible added weekend rates.

According to the study, the proposed changes to parking rates have been a work in progress. A parking and mobility study completed in 2015 evaluated parking demand and rates, and established a work program for managing parking demand through initiatives and investments incorporated into the FY 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 budgets.

Mobile GR also released an online survey, where the original plan before the moratorium allowed the community to give feedback on the draft recommendations. Mobile GR would then give its modified recommendations to Washington, who would have decided when the recommendations went before the city commission.

While the moratorium is in effect, Washington will work with Mobile GR and Parking Services staff to establish priorities for the proposed Fiscal Year 2020 budget. Any changes to on- or off-street parking will be worked into the new budget.

Multiple Business Journal reports have covered the parking and mobility activity of Mobile GR and Parking Services. Just in 2018, the department has rebranded and expanded the hours of the DASH shuttle service, implemented new on-street parking technology like the MOTU app, and replaced and expanded pay stations to include metered parking in the Wealthy and Cherry Street corridors.

Mobile GR also partnered with Spectrum Industries in December 2017 to open a 300-space, $2-million parking lot at the cross section of McConnell Street and Ionia Avenue, across from the Downtown Market.

Amy Snow-Buckner, acting managing director of communications for the city, said the decision to issue a moratorium on further parking changes was not a direct result of community feedback.

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