Columbia District board wants more time to consider parking rates

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 | 7:04 p.m. CDT

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."

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Mike Martin April 13, 2011 | 9:51 p.m.

"Inevitable" that parking rates will have to go up? Who says? The 1/2 million dollar parking consultant behind that monstrosity downtown -- that's who!

I'm a lot more skeptical about this entire downtown parking calamity -- from sky high garages to sky high rates -- after doing the research for this series about the city's hired gun, Walker Parking Consultants:

PRICEY PARKING: Where consultant goes, fee hikes follow, Pt. 1

Part two of the series is out tomorrow.

(Report Comment)
Christopher Foote April 13, 2011 | 11:49 p.m.

Parking spaces are a commodity. Low rates undervalue a community resource and lead to a lack of turnover, i.e. there are less available spots with under-priced rates.
The rate should be set such that there is generally always a spot available every few blocks, but low enough so that there are only a few spots available. Not only would this benefit the local businesses, by providing convenient available parking, but it would also cut down on traffic, as less people will be circling looking for spots during peak hours.

(Report Comment)
Steph Hopp April 21, 2011 | 2:34 p.m.

The city of Columbia had this same thought, Mr. Foote, and raised parking meter rates a few years ago, but only on meters that were in areas of downtown that are adjacent to campus. They raised the selected meters from 30 cents to 50 cents.

(Report Comment)

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