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Closings and Delays

Parking Plan Approved, Headed to Commissioners

Sehvilla Mann

Correction - April 19, 2016: An earlier version of this story incorrectly implied that the Kalamazoo City Commission had to approve every aspect of the the DDA's parking plan for it to become law. In fact, while the commission has authority over parking fine amounts, the DDA has the final word on parking rate increases.

People who park in downtown Kalamazoo need to pack extra quarters starting this summer. The board that sets parking rates downtown says it needs to raise those rates to cover costs. The Downtown Development Authority approved a parking plan Monday to raise meter rates as well as prices at lots and ramps, starting in July.

In summer 2017, meter enforcement will extend to 9pm and meters will be enforced on Saturdays.

The approval follows several months of false starts on a parking plan, where members disagreed on how to move forward. On Monday board members asked questions about the plan but none opposed it.

DDA President Steve Deisler says the parking system needs to raise millions of dollars for repairs and updates. He says it would take a few years for the proposed rate hikes plus a few service cuts to catch up with the cost. Deisler says the board will ask the city for about $600,000 in bonds to help with short-term cash flow.

“It’s this first phase that’s critical. And that’s kind of what it showed in the forecast, that you see those negative numbers still in the first four years. And then year five, you’ll see us getting into the profit or at least the positive side of the equation,” he says.

The board has decided to keep 90-minute free spots. Business owners in central Kalamazoo had spoken against getting rid of them. DDA President Deisler says late April is probably the earliest the city commission will consider the parking plan. The commission has authority over parking fines, but not the initial cost to park, which is set by the DDA.

How rates will change

The policy affects every aspect of public parking downtown. Here are a few of the changes the DDA’s parking plan will make.

Beginning July 1, 2016:

-    It will cost $1.50 to park in an attended facility for the first hour, up from $1.35. The rate for half-hours beyond that will remain $0.85.
-    Unattended lots will cost $2.00 for the first hour, $1.00 for each additional half hour. Right now the rate is one dollar per hour for lots 2, 13 and 19 and a $3 flat fee for Lot 1.
-    Short-term meters will cost $1.75 an hour, up from $1.50 an hour. Long-term meters will cost $2.50 per 10 hours, up from $2.00 for 10 hours.

On July 1, the fine for an expired meter will rise to $15 from $10.

July 2017:

-    The first hour in an attended facility will cost $1.75, and additional half hours will cost $1.00 each.
-    Unattended lots will cost $2 for the first hour and $1 for each extra 30 minutes
-    Long-term meters will cost $3 for 10 hours
-    Meters will be enforced until 9pm on weekdays and from 8am until 9pm on Saturdays

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Sehvilla Mann joined WMUK’s news team in January 2014 as a reporter on the local government and education beats. Before that she covered a variety of topics, including environmental issues, for Bloomington, Indiana NPR and PBS affiliates WFIU and WTIU. She’s also written and produced stories for the Pacifica Network and WYSO Public Radio in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Sehvilla holds a B.A. in French from Earlham College and an M.A. in journalism from Indiana University.
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