GRANOLAPARK: Park-and-pay-and-pay

GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT

Dear Readers,

Here’s a terrible idea.

The council is talking about spending around $18,000 to turn Takoma Junction’s city parking lot into a pay-and-display lot.

They’re not talking parking meters, no way! They wanna have high-price, high-tech gear that will break down and need constant maintenance and continuing costs: credit card readers, keypads, printers, power and telephone connections, solar panels, cellular airtime and software.

What really got Your Gilbert reaching for the rum bottle was when some of them got huffy. “We,” they said, have been providing free parking to residents who “consume” parking without paying for it.

Who’s “we?”

“We” – the taxpayers – own the city lot. And we use it for parking. Our taxes paid for it. Our taxes pay for the upkeep. How is that freeloading?

In truth, what the council is doing is making us pay a fee on top of taxes so we can use our own lot. So, they’re making us pay for it twice. Oh, and they’re making us pay for the high-tech pay-for-parking gizmos, too.

Recoup?

Will the parking fees recoup the costs? That’s what councilmember Fred Schultz wanted to know.

Roz Grigsby, the city’s community development coordinator gave a rough estimate. “I crunched some numbers,” she said hesitantly, “I hate to say them out loud.” She estimated the lot could earn $15,700 per year.

She said her department’s “informal spot checking” never observed the lot more than 50% full. She cautioned that people’s parking habits change when a lot goes from free to fee, so the numbers would probably decline.

There are 56 spaces,16 of them to be used by the coop for employee parking.

parkinglotjunction2

The city lot as seen from the food coop grounds.

Take a hike

Councilmember Seth Grimes proposed a city-wide parking fee increase from 75¢ to $1 an hour – to “pay the actual cost of parking they consume.” That ‘s what nearby jurisdictions charge, he said.

Councilmember Schultz worried about local merchant’s reaction to the end of free parking, and Grimes’ proposed fee hike.

Grigsby said she hadn’t spoken to them about it, but  “they know its coming,” and they they know redevelopment of lot is in store.

So, there goes another piece of “Mayberry,” that small town feel that some of us still value. What’s the virtue in having the same rip-off parking rates as nearby jurisdictions?  There’s nothing like steep parking rates to make shoppers feel like they’re being lawfully mugged. Is the object to aggravate people so they won’t come back? Wouldn’t they be more likely to return if they felt like Takoma Park was a refreshing small town with refreshing small-town meter fees to match?

– Gilbert

 

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About the Author

Gilbert
Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

1 Comment on "GRANOLAPARK: Park-and-pay-and-pay"

  1. Pay For Use | April 21, 2014 at 8:58 pm |

    Paying for use is a well utilized concept. Typically it’s used to regulate demand. But I have not seen a big demand problem at the lot. There always seems to be parking. Perhaps commuters are parking there to take the Metro?

    But if they are going to start charging, why not use a system that requires no expensive machines. ParkMobile, PayByPhone, QuickPay, EasyPark, and similar mobile apps only require that a sign be posted. The user only need a smart phone to pay for parking. No expensive equipment that can fail.

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