Upcoming changes to parking system reviewed
By Grace Lovins
Birmingham city commissioners spent time discussing the upcoming changes to the city’s parking system on Monday, December 4, during a workshop session before the regular commission meeting.
One of the commissioners had previously expressed interest in learning more about the state of the city’s parking system operations, said city manager Jana Ecker. Providing a presentation to the commission was the city’s parking director Aaron Ford.
One of the major changes to the city’s parking system will be a switch from using an outside parking management company to an in-house department. As part of the process to transition things over, the city is proposing the development of an 11-person parking department, according to Ford.
Ford also explained the recently updated parking system equipment has been working well to increase entrance and exit speeds. By shifting the parking in-house, software was purchased along with the new equipment that can make it easier for users with a monthly parking pass. The city is currently working on implementing new software that will let parkers manage their monthly parking.
On top of updates to equipment, Birmingham will also see structural and aesthetic repairs in all five of the city’s parking garages. Repairs to the N Old Woodward parking garage were recently completed, and the Chester and Peabody parking garages are next on the list. Ford said repairs should be kicked off for the two garages in 2024, and the following year the city plans to look at the Pierce and Park Street garages.
City staff is also proposing changes to the on-street parking program including converting all one-hour parking zones to two-hour zones, identifying spaces to convert to short-term and implementing dynamic pricing. Dynamic pricing would mean the city charging higher rates at select meters at specific times of day, Ford said.
Recently the city also submitted an invitation to bid for electrical vehicle (EV) charging stations in Parking Lot 7 and the Chester Street parking garage. Ford said they are looking to install five dual port stations at each location.
Commissioner Clinton Baller, who recommended the board look into this, suggested that the city become more decisive about their goals for the parking system.
“I think it’s really important that we sort of make a decision that we’re going to run this system like a business. Not that it’s only a business or that its main goal is to make a profit, but we’ve run it for many years as a public service with very little regard for the numbers and I think a lot of money has slipped through our hands,” Baller said.
He also said that the advisory parking committee and city commission need to be more involved in the decision-making process when it comes to expenditures and system improvements.
The commission did not take any formal action since the discussion was a workshop session.