The free ride downtown will soon be over. Effective July 1st metered parking downtown will no longer be free, the Treasurer’s press release:
Effective July 1, 2013, the Parking Division will begin enforcing parking violations, including expired meters, in Downtown St. Louis on Saturdays. Accordingly, Downtown patrons will be required to pay for using parking meters on Saturdays from 8:00am-7:00pm. The Parking Commission of the City of St. Louis voted unanimously to change this policy during its monthly meeting held May 9, 2013. This change in policy is necessary in order to apply consistent enforcement policies across the city.
In order to adjust to the change, enforcement officers will issue warning notices during the first two weekends in July.
Downtown is currently the only area of the city without Saturday enforcement.
The facts got a bit twisted in the local media:
For decades, flashing “expired” signs went unenforced in downtown parking meters on Saturdays. But City Treasurer Tishaura Jones announced on Tuesday that the city will end the long-standing policy and start requiring people to pay for street parking on Saturdays.
Starting on July 1, Jones said, downtown motorists will be required to pay for using parking meters on Saturdays, from 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. To help ease the change, violators will be issued warnings on the first two weekends of July. (stltoday)
7am? Went unenforced? To be fair to the paper this “violations” view came from the treasurer website:
Effective July 1, 2013, the Parking Division will begin enforcing parking violations, including expired meters, in Downtown St. Louis on Saturdays.
Yesterday Jones replied to my email inquiry, indicating: “The previous policy was the first two hours were free.” However, Jones’ statement doesn’t jive with with the current meters:
Jones indicated these “tags will be updated shortly. They be replaced before July 1.” Over downtown 3,275 meters need changing with only 7 business days remain before July 1st. As indicated, this decision was made on May 9th so it is reasonable to expect all to be updated in 7 weeks time. Still, I’m bothered by the apparent confusion as to what the policy has been.
Maggie Campbell, who recently resigned as President of the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis, was an advocate for free parking seven days a week. I sat on a downtown parking committee with her a few years ago and we disagreed on this issue. I agree with parking experts like The High Cost of Free Parking author Donald Shoup (video) and Parking Management Best Practices author Todd Litman that pricing should not be free, but set to create turnover.
I think Jones may be confusing the 2-hour limit with free saturday parking. In theory the limit for most downtown spaces is two hours, after which the enforcement officials would drive around putting a chalk mark on tires and ticketing vehicles that hadn’t moved in two hours — regardless if the meter had been paid. It is this time limit that has never been enforced anywhere in the city. Two very different issues a banker might get confused.
A puzzling part of this change is who has authority to set policy, her or the Board of Aldermen. Jones directed me to Missouri statute RsMO 82.485:
It shall be the duty of the supervisor of parking meters to install parking meters, collect all parking meter fees, supervise the expenditures for repairs and maintenance, establish and supervise a parking enforcement division and a parking meter division to enforce any statute or ordinances now or hereafter established pertaining to the parking of motor vehicles, including automated zone parking and all other parking functions, and to make all disbursements on any parking contracts, including employment, consulting, legal services, capital improvement and purchase of equipment and real property which may hereafter be made by such cities, subject to audit in the manner provided by state statute.
The Parking Commission consists of the following:
- Tishaura Jones (Treasurer)
- Carl Phillips (Parking Administrator)
- Todd Waeltermann (Director of Streets)
- Ald. Freeman Bosley, Sr (Chair of Streets Committee)
- Elaine Spearmon (Comptroller’s Office representative)
Meetings of the CITY OF SAINT LOUIS PARKING COMMISSION are open to the general public and held every second Thursday of each month at 10:00 a.m. in Room 220 City Hall, 1200 Market Street, St. Louis, MO 63103. Please call 314-622-4700 for more information.
Yet the Board of Aldermen has passed numerous ordinances related to parking, such as Parking in the Third Ward or Parking Meter Division Employees relating to pay scale of employees. Hopefully Tishaura Jones will be successful in doing what she campaigned on, removing parking from the Treasurer’s office. Bankers should not determine parking policy.
– Steve Patterson