COLUMBIA — The Special Business District board unanimously decided Tuesday to ask the Columbia City Council for more time to consider whether it's a good idea to increase parking meter rates.
The board plans to ask the council to table the issue on Monday and give it three more months to discuss alternatives for downtown parking rates.
“There simply hasn't been enough time for them to review the proposal and explore other options,” Carrie Gartner, Special Business District executive director, said.
Skip Walther, chairman of the Downtown Community Improvement District board, agreed that downtown interests need more time to ponder the issue.
The borders of the Community Improvement District, which was approved by the City Council in February, mirrors the Special Business District.
“What we need to do is meet with the city staff and finance people and look at how they have calculated the revenue stream from the propose rate increases,” Walther said. “There is a fear that a month isn’t enough.”
Throughout the past month, the Special Business District board has discussed the need to move storefront parking to the garages, which would help solve traffic problems downtown.
One alternative brought to the table was to raise rates only on some key streets, which Walther said would eliminate some of the congestion on busier streets and spread traffic more evenly.
On April 4, the City Council heard a proposal to raise the current parking meter rates of 30 cents and 50 cents an hour to a uniform 60 cents per hour. Meter times also would be extended from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m on weekdays. The money generated by this plan would help pay for construction of a new garage on Short Street, which the council recently approved. That garage, in part, would provide parking for a new hotel that will replace The Regency Hotel.
“It is inevitable that the parking rates will go up,” Walther said. “We want to make it as clear as possible what our plans are to our constituents so they don’t end up with a plan they hate."