I have been following the city of Seattle and its moving to a type of free market rate setting for parking charges. The emerald city has been taking baby steps in neighborhoods throughout the area.
Most recently, they decided to install pay parking in the Fremont area near Ballard. Read all about it here.
The city has been working on this since 2001. The local Chamber of Commerce is upset because the evil city government slipped it by them and released its decision to the press the day before it told the Chamber. I’m wondering what the Chamber was doing for the past seven years.
Plan seems to be pretty benign. They are putting pay parking in place in areas where the occupancy rate exceeds 75%. The problem is that it doesn’t go far enough, and the city isn’t saying where the income from the parking fees is going.
It’s one thing to hold hearings, get input, and then do the opposite of what the people want, that’s just typical government. However had they handled it a bit differently, merchants, the Chamber, and residents could have been on their side.
I wonder what would have happened if the city had told the merchants in Fremont that there would be about $1,000,000 net collected in the area and that money would be returned to the area in the form of new sidewalks, street lights, parks, and other infrastructure. Think maybe folks might have been a bit more positive about the changes?
Instead, it seems like a very adversarial situation has developed. My guess is that the locals will cause the parking system to fail, or at least be at war with those innocents who are tasked with enforcing it. Grumbling will continue until the local politicos can’t handle it any longer, and more changes will be made.
Municipalities need to learn that if you take away with one hand, you need to give back with another. More money into the bottomless general fund isn’t the way to handle it. Newspapers also need to know what questions to ask (Where is the money going?)