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Parking meter pilot programs for downtown

By Grace Lovins


Two parking meter pilot programs expanding short-term and long-term metered parking are set to hit downtown Birmingham this year after Birmingham city commissioners approved the move during their Monday, March 4, meeting.


According to city parking manager Aaron Ford, the proposal comes from a customer service focus on improving safety and the parking experience in Birmingham. Ford explained that the first pilot program would extend one-hour parking meters to two-hour parking meters with an exception in specific locations, and the second program would expand the current short-term parking pilot program.


The Birmingham Shopping District (BSD) informed Ford that the average length of a patron’s stay is about two hours, said Ford. After meeting with the BSD's maintenance and capital improvement committee, the BSD board and the city's advisory parking committee, Ford said that the groups preferred support for extending current one-hour parking spots to two-hours except for parking spots along Maple Road east of Old Woodward Avenue and Woodward Avenue between Willits Street and Brown Street.


Currently, the city has a pilot program for short-term parking of 15-minutes on Brown Street in front of Birmingham Roast. Ford stated that this program has been successful in terms of people using it the way it was intended. He said that by providing these types of spots in other areas that are frequently abused, it would hopefully cut down on illegal parking.


Commissioner Andrew Haig argued that extending the 15-minute parking to replace current metered parking is not a good idea given that the city would lose about $50,000 in revenue. Since the spaces where the short-term parking is proposed already have meters, commissioner Therese Longe suggested keeping the spaces metered but also making them short-term for the pilot program.


Haig, along with commissioner Clinton Baller took issue with extending the length of time for the spaces from one-hour to two-hours, stating that they don’t think there is an objective way to measure the success of the program.


Baller argued that parking for individuals staying beyond two hours is available in the parking decks and the city should do more to encourage people to park in the decks for long-term parking. The point of metered one-hour parking is to have turnover, he noted.
 Commissioners voted first to approve the expansion of a metered short-term parking pilot program for six months after implementation, approving the decision in a 6-0 vote.


Extending the one-hour metered parking to two-hour metered parking for a six-month pilot program was a less popular decision but was approved nonetheless in a 4-2 vote, with commissioners Baller and Haig voting against the motion. Mayor pro tem Katie Schafer was absent from the meeting.

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