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‘Tis the Season to be Parking

Parking is a hot topic here in Seattle and around the country. Curl up with a mug of cocoa and catch up on some of the most recent parking stories circling the web.

December 27, 2012
Chicago parking meter rates to rise again in 2013

In an annual ritual that has become as predictable if not as joyous as a New Year’s Eve countdown to midnight, Chicago drivers again will have to dig a little deeper to pay to park at meters in 2013. Loop rates will go up 75 cents to $6.50 an hour as part of scheduled fee increases included in Mayor Richard Daley’s much-criticized 2008 lease of the city’s meters to Chicago Parking Meters LLC. Paid street parking in neighborhoods near the Loop will rise 25 cents and reach $4 an hour.

December 26, 2012
How Smart Is Smart Parking – And For Whom?

Parking enforcers, not motorists in search of available parking, may be the main beneficiaries of ‘smart parking’ technology as they have the ability to immediately spot parking spaces where vehicles have overstayed their time limits and by how long. Randall Stross, an author and professor of business at San Jose State University, analyzes the current state of smart parking technology and just how useful it is, and to whom.

December 26, 2012
Tow-truck firms sue over Seattle’s cap on fees

The state association of tow-truck operators is suing the city of Seattle over its efforts to cap the sometimes exorbitant fees towing companies charge to remove a vehicle from private property. In a suit filed in King County Superior Court, the Towing and Recovery Association of Washington argues that the city cannot adopt regulations that are inconsistent with state law regulating towing and impound fees.

December 26, 2012
Instead of building more parking spots, Parking Panda lets people rent out the ones they already own

In this great, sprawling country of ours, there are simultaneously too many parking spaces and never enough. But with 800 million spaces out there — about three per car on the road — it stands to reason that at any given time, many of those parking spots are empty. One company is trying to change that, though, by helping average human beings turn into small, hyperlocal parking garage operators, i.e. rent out their parking spaces when they’re not using them.

December 26, 2012
Chicago Clinches Title For Nation’s Highest Parking Meter Rates

Another year, another parking meter price hike. Chicago motorists will celebrate the start of 2013 by ringing a fifth consecutive year of parking meter rate increases, further insuring the Windy City retains its title for the nation’s most expensive parking meters. Back in December, 2008 the city council approved a privatization deal put together by then Mayor Richard Daley, which leased the city’s metered parking spaces to a private firm for $1.16 billion dollar. But as part of that 75-year agreement, the city agreed to allow meter rates to rise annually for the contract’s initial five years, ultimately making Chicago’s downtown rates the highest in nation.

December 26, 2012
Denver Public Works rewards legally-parked drivers with prepaid parking cards

When Joseph Purvis walks up to a car, he typically gets this reaction: “Sir, wait! I`m right here!” Purvis said, imitating a concerned driver about to get a parking ticket from him. For three years, Purvis has been handing out parking tickets. But recently, he`s been getting a different greeting from drivers. “Is this a joke?” a woman asked as Purvis handed her a $5 parking card. No, it`s not a joke. This holiday season, Denver Public Works is giving away 250 $5 parking cards.

December 26, 2012
The End of Parking Misery

Parking is one of the most vexed commodities in modern American life. A nation of about 300 million citizens with 255 million registered cars has as many as 800 million parking spaces, but not enough at the right place at the right time. A family needs a place to park their car when they’re home, but that space goes empty whenever they’re at work. Workers need a place to park their car when they’re at the office, but nobody is at the office most of the time. For all this parking bounty, it often seems that there’s never anywhere to park—at least not where you want to go.

December 25, 2012
Program to help homeless living in cars off to slow, steady start

In the year since Seattle launched the Safe Parking pilot project for homeless people living in their cars, just two churches have opened their parking lots, providing a total of seven spaces. But the city is expanding the project and hopes to provide more services. A 59-year old man who goes by the nickname “Wavy” knows what it’s like to live in a van and try to find a place to park for the night. He’s been awakened by police telling him to move along. A homeowner called 911 when he parked in a West Seattle neighborhood.

December 24, 2012
Bellingham to resume enforcement of parking meters day after Christmas

The city’s gift of free parking at downtown meters expires on Christmas Day. Enforcement of meters and ground-level parking in the Parkade, 1300 Commercial St., resumes on Wednesday, Dec. 26. Parking was free at meters starting Dec. 10 to encourage shopping and other business downtown. Owners of vehicles found parked at an expired meter will receive a $10 fine. A $10 late fee is added if the owner doesn’t respond within 15 days.

December 22, 2012
The Learning Curve of Smart Parking

Place “smart” in front of a noun and you immediately have something that somehow sounds improved. In its current state, however, “smart parking” is in some ways little different from regular parking. The term refers to a beguiling technology, now being tested in several cities, that uses sensors to determine whether a particular spot on the street or in a parking garage is occupied or vacant. When a car has overstayed its allotted time, the technology can also send the information to a parking enforcement officer with ticket book in hand.

December 22, 2012
Spend less time hunting for parking this holiday

It’s a busy weekend of last minute shopping at the mall, but there are ways to cut down on time spent circling the parking lot. The head of a firm that tracks mall parking lots using satellite images tells the Wall Street Journal that lots tend to fill up in a bell-shaped curve around an entrance.  That means the best place to find a spot at a mall is likely to be equidistant from two entrances. Parking between two entrances can also make it easier to get out of the parking lot as fewer people will be walking to or from their cars in that area.

December 20, 2012
Parking Authority to develop online space reservation program

The Pittsburgh Parking Authority today voted to begin development of an online parking space reservation system and to add a pay-by-phone feature to recently installed multi-space parking meter devices. The authority said the projects are designed to enhance revenues and customer service. The board voted to spend up to $35,000 to develop the on-line reservation program, which would debut sometime next year.

December 19, 2012
Motorists Save With Efficient Parking Pricing

Contrary to many motorists’ fears, San Francisco’s demand-based parking pricing has reduced overall average hourly rates and ticket citations.  When San Francisco first installed its SFpark meters — devices that would increase hourly parking rates based on demand — many motorists complained that it was one more way to gouge drivers for extra dollars. In fact, the program has done the exact opposite, reports Will Reisman. “Since taking effect in April 2011, average hourly rates have dropped by 14 cents from $2.73 to $2.59 at the 7,000 SFpark meters.

December 18, 2012
D.C. to Reconsider Disabled Parking Next Year

The D.C. Council says it will reconsider how to get disabled drivers to pay for parking at meters next year, News4’s Tom Sherwood reported, but in the meantime, anybody can park at any meter – red top or not – and disabled drivers can continue to park for free as long as they have the proper placards. D.C. spent more than $700,000 this year on its plan to have as many as 1,800 metered parking spaces reserved for disabled drivers. For the first time, they were to pay for parking, but they were to be given twice as much time at those spaces – indicated by their red tops. About 450 hundred of those meters have been installed this year, and the rest will remain in storage.

December 17, 2012
How Indianapolis Fixed Its Parking Problems

Parking in most US cities can be a drag. If you’re lucky enough to find an unoccupied spot, you still have to find enough change to fill up the meter. Then, if your errand takes longer than expected, you run the risk of getting a ticket. Maintaining parking meters is no picnic for city governments either. Coins need to removed and batteries need to be replaced frequently. On top of all that, because parking meter rates in most cities haven’t changed for decades, meters typically don’t generate much revenue.

December 16, 2012
D.C. kills $700,000 parking program, asks what next

The District invested more than $700,000 and hundreds of man-hours creating a handicapped-parking program that it then abruptly canceled — leaving officials to bicker over why it went down and with few clues about what to do next. The D.C. Council earlier this month voted down the red-top meter program, which would have forced disabled people to pay for parking at city meters but would also have reserved as many as 1,800 on-street spaces for them, marked with red-topped meters. The changes were part of an effort to crack down on the fraudulent use of handicapped placards by people who aren’t disabled but want to park for free in the District.

December 15, 2012
Long parking times cost downtown shops money

A perceived parking jam in downtown Coos Bay has caused some local businesses to urge the city to bring back parking enforcement. The Coos Bay Downtown Business Association said a few businesses have become frustrated due to the lack of available parking spots for customers in front of their stores. President Brian Bowers said the biggest concern for the business owners is that customers won’t have easy access to spend their money. ‘If you have somebody parked in front of your store all day, you are losing revenue,” he said.