Finding the Way to Downtown Parking

A compromise on paid parking hours is steering its way toward council approval

Finding the Way to Downtown Parking

Dueling City Council resolutions tinkering with the expansion of paid parking hours Downtown may not be on a collision course after all. At council's work session this week, Laura Morrison and Kathie Tovo – who had floated a resolution postponing implementation of the previously adopted expansion (to evening hours) – both voiced support for a compromise proposed by Mike Martinez, although questions regarding foregone revenues are still circling the block.

This spring, council voted to start charging for metered parking Downtown from 6pm to midnight Monday-Friday and all day on Satur­day. Upon her election, Tovo – who spoke against the expansion in her campaign – offered a resolution along with Morrison (previously the lone vote against the expansion) to postpone the process and solicit additional public input on the admittedly unpopular decision. A vote on that item was postponed, and when it returned on council's Aug. 18 agenda, it was along with an additional item from Martinez and Mayor Lee Leffingwell – leading hall watchers to wonder whether the items were compatible.

Martinez's motion calls also for recruiting stakeholder input but would implement changes in September. It would expand paid parking hours into the evening only on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and it would designate the after-hours paid parking as running from Lady Bird Lake to Eighth Street; the original proposal reaches 10th Street.

The financial impact of the change was dwelled on extensively by Leffingwell, despite his co-sponsorship of Martinez's resolution. Bill Spelman, with the assistance of Trans­porta­tion Department head Rob Spillar, indulged in some on-the-fly estimates, with Spillar estimating about $1.5 million in income available for parking projects like wayfinding (i.e., directions to parking lots) and Downtown improvements, about half of the city's initial estimate.

Morrison suggested that the funds could be recouped via changes to the city's valet parking rules. Martinez's resolution calls for the city manager to bring back recommendations for "modifications relating to valet service" (including fees valet companies pay the city to "bag" parking meters for their own use) by November.

"It does not appear that we would be underwater," Morrison said, adding that "when folks hear [that] for a $250 permit, someone can get a prime space reserved – that's real concerning; it doesn't seem fair."

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Downtown parking
Color Me Yellow (Button)
Color Me Yellow (Button)
If you drink too much, here's how not to get towed

Wells Dunbar, Sept. 9, 2011

More by Wells Dunbar
Top 10 City Council Stories
Top 10 City Council Stories
Dais and months

Jan. 6, 2012

City Hall Hustle: The Hustle Bids Farewell ...
City Hall Hustle: The Hustle Bids Farewell ...
To the beating hearts of a great city

Dec. 30, 2011

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Downtown parking, City Council

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle