Hartford Sweetens the Deal on Parking Lease


Hartford Sweetens the Deal on Parking Lease

The City of Hartford is “going out.” They are preparing to elicit bids for a 50 year lease on their parking system. OK – you all know how I feel about these deals in general so I will skip over that.

What gets me is that they are building increases in rates into the deal. Read this:

To avoid meter shock in Hartford, the work group urges a provision in the city’s concession contract to let metered street parking rise 50 cents, to $1.50 hourly, six months after the deal, then climb another 50 cents, to $2, at the start of the fifth year. After that, any increases in metered parking rates would be linked to the rate of inflation, and could only rise in 25-cent increments with approval from the Hartford Parking Authority, officials said.

So let’s see – They are pulling arbitrary numbers out of the air to set parking rates in the city. They will go up 50% six months after the lease kicks in, and then they can be raised 33% four years later. Then they are pegged to inflation.

Wow! No thought to the neighborhood, demand, parking policy, time of day, day of week, season, weather, or changes in the neighborhood demographics. They are predicting that Hartford’s neighborhoods will stay exactly the same for the next 50 years.

I often use Culver City here in LA as an example of how a downtown area can change. In less than 10 years, it went from a sleepy little area with a hardware store, a Mexican restaurant, and a couple of small shops to a tony area with some of the best restaurants and clubs in LA. The place hops.

So my question is, should the parking charges in Culver City on a Friday night be the same today as they were a decade ago (adjusted for inflation.) the obvious answer is no since the demand is maybe 100 times greater today than in the 1990s.

It can also work in reverse. What if a new parking garage is opened and the on street demand is lessened. Then shouldn’t the prices go down? Can you imagine prices going down in Hartford no matter what happens down the road?

The plan that the wise people who work for the city in Hartford have come up with may attract a number of $100 million bidders, but will it be the best for the parking policy in the insurance city, and best for the merchants, the traffic flow, cruising, and the like, even five years down the road.


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John Van Horn

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