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Readers: No Free Parking During Downtown Events

July 2, 2014 Downtown, Parking 1 Comment
Metered parking on 10th Street
Metered parking on 10th Street

In the poll last week more than two-thirds of readers the voted clearly support Tishaura Jones’ decision to continue enforcement of parking meters.

Q: Should the St. Louis Treasurer suspend parking meter enforcement during downtown events?

  1. No 99 [67.81%]
  2. Yes 41 [28.08%]
  3. Maybe 5 [3.42%]
  4. Unsure/No Opinion 1 [0.68%]
  5. Yes, but only for the Komen Race 0 [0%]

I agree with Jones and those who voted no, too many events to say parking is free. How far away from the event would be free? What about events held elsewhere, would those events also have free parking too? Look, I’m sorry the Komen Race organizers failed to make it clear to participants that on-street parking hasn’t been free since July 2013. The ticket is only $10, take transit or carpool next year.

— Steve Patterson


Watch For Motorcycles, Park On Sidewalk

A lot of space in St. Louis is designated for vehicles, with a little for pedestrians. As a result, I get upset when a vehicle reduces the sidewalk space further.

Van parked part way on the  Olive sidewalk at 9:40am on a Tuesday morning
Van parked part way on the Olive sidewalk at 9:40am on a Tuesday morning
Close-up of sticker on back window
Close-up of sticker on back window
Side view of van, unsure if it’s still associated with Southwest Christian Church in Fenton

If your vehicle can’t be parked without being part way on the sidewalk I suggest you find a different parking spot. If you’re a motorist do please watch for motorcycles, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

— Steve Patterson


Parking: Study Flaw, Open House Tonight, Consultant Hired (UPDATED)


The weekly poll that started on Sunday morning is about parking, but there’s more on the subject. First, St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones is hosting an open house tonight:

The City of St. Louis Treasurer’s Office will conduct a town hall meeting to give the public the chance to meet the vendors participating in the parking technology field tests in downtown and the Central West End.

The meeting will be June 24 at the Central Library in downtown. A meet and greet with the vendors will take place at 6 pm, with a presentation to begin at 7 pm. The companies participating in the town hall are: Xerox, Duncan Solutions, Aparc Systems, and a joint proposal submitted by T2 Systems, Inc., Republic Parking System and Digital Payment Technologies. (source)

As of yesterday morning, tonight’s open house still wasn’t listed under the “Upcoming Events” heading. The above quote is from the blog post listed under “News” 0n May 29th, not holding my breath they’ll list the event as an event. The open house seeks feedback on the field tests of new parking meter technology. First, a little help with some of the jargon you’ll hear.

“Multi-space parking meters” includes two very different types: pay-per-space and pay-and-display. With the former each parking space is assigned a number for you to use when paying at a pay station, the latter you pay at a pay station but get a receipt to stick inside your car window to show payment, spaces aren’t formally designated. The pay-and-display form of multi-space parking meters aren’t being tested in St. Louis. Everyone should be familiar with single space meters.

A flaw recently occurred to me in the design of the pilot project to study two types of technology (Single space meters & Pay-per-space/multi-space stations) from four vendors. Two areas areas of the city were selected to try these: the Central West End (CWE) and Downtown. The problem is someone decided to test both vendors with single space meters in the CWE and two out of three pay-per-space stations downtown.  One vendor, Xerox, being tested at Euclid & Laclede, has both single space meters & pay-per-space stations. To control for different conditions, users, etc. one of each type of technology should’ve been placed in each neighborhood, no single space meters are being tested downtown.

Single space meter being tested on Laclede
Single space meter being tested on Laclede accepts credit cards & mobile payments…coins too

The most recent numbers compares the four vendors to each other, with no reference to historical revenues for the test areas with the current meters. Is one higher because of the technology or because that spot is busier?

The latest numbers on the four vendors, distributed earlier this month at the Parking Commission meeting. Received vis a Missouri Sunshine Law request. Click image to view 2-page PDF  on Scribd.com
The latest numbers on the four vendors, distributed earlier this month at the Parking Commission meeting. Received vis a Missouri Sunshine Law request. Click image to view 2-page PDF on Scribd.com

As you can see above payment by coin (red) is larger than credit card (blue), with mobile payments barely registering. It’s expected after a system is selected that credit card and mobile payments will make up the bulk of the revenue. None accept bills.

Thankfully the Treasurer’s Office realized they need parking professionals to guide the city into the future…at least with respect to parking, they recently announced a firm to act as a consultant:

Desman Associates responded to a request for proposal (RFP) to hire a consultant to evaluate the City’s current on and off-street parking programs and to recommend improvements to the parking system. Desman Associates has conducted several parking studies in St. Louis, including studies for Ballpark Village, the Peabody Opera House, Grand Center, and Washington University.

“The parking study will be used to reform the current parking system and offer guidance as we look to implement new parking technology and modernize an outdated system,” said Tishaura O. Jones, Treasurer of the City of St. Louis. “We look forward to working with Desman Associates to create a first class parking operation for the City.”

Desman Associates is based in New York:

DESMAN Associates, is a professional corporation with more than 100 professional and technical personnel. The firm is a leading national specialist in transportation improvements and the planning, design and construction administration of functionally efficient, attractive and cost effective parking facilities. Since the firm’s inception in 1973, DESMAN has served public, private and institutional Clients and Owners throughout the U.S. and abroad and has provided planning, design, and restoration services for over 1,500 parking projects.

DESMAN operates from the nine following office locations:

  • New York*
  • Chicago
  • Cleveland
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Hartford
  • Boston
  • Denver
  • Ft. Lauderdale
  • Pittsburgh

DESMAN Associates is also recognized as a certified Minority-owned Business Enterprise (MBE) by many states, municipalities and other government and public agencies that may help clients meet or exceed their affirmative action goals and policies.

* Corporate office

I’m not sure if representatives from Desman Associates will be at the open house tonight, I’ll be there (Central Library) to meet the four vendors at 6pm and see the presentation at 7pm. Remember, when Tishaura Jones ran for the office in 2012 she said repeatedly she didn’t want to be a “parking czar.”

UPDATED 6/25/2014 @ 7:30am, after talking with teams last night:

  • The Xerox team is advocating a mixed approach for St. Louis with some multi-space stations and some single space, depending on the conditions. Block faces with few spaces the single space meters are more cost-effective to install. Other teams indicated they also advocate using both even though they’re only testing one type.
  • In cities where a mobile app can be used everywhere the use rate ranges from 10-50%, right now so few meters accept mobile payments few have bothered to set up accounts.
  • I was highly impressed by all four teams, the two mobile companies, and the town hall event.Kudos!

— Steve Patterson


Poll: Should the St. Louis Treasurer Suspend Parking Meter Enforcement During Downtown Events?

Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

The following letter to the editor ran recently in the Post-Dispatch:

My wife, who is a cancer survivor, attended the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure walk on Saturday. We parked on the street at 17th and Locust to join the event. No one paid the meter;  we were the last space on the block, so we assumed the city waived parking fees.

Two hours later, we arrived back at the car and saw every car was ticketed. The city and Mayor Slay should be ashamed! Attila the Hun had better PR techniques. When 30,000-plus people come to downtown for such a worthwhile event, all meters in the area should be free for the morning hours.

Tom Carpenter  •  Shiloh

This prompted a response from Treasurer Tishaura Jones:

The St. Louis City treasurer issued a statement on Tuesday addressing parking meter enforcement during Saturday’s Susan G. Komen St. Louis Race for the Cure. Some people were ticketed during the race, and this is the first year parking meters were enforced since the office decided in July to start charging for metered parking on Saturdays.

Treasurer Tishaura O. Jones defended the meter enforcement, praising the race and the other events held downtown, and pointing out that if they offered free metered parking for one event they would have to offer it to everyone. (stltoday)

The poll this week asks if you think the St. Louis treasurer should suspend parking meter enforcement during downtown events. Parking meters are enforced Monday-Saturday, no charge on Sunday. The poll is in the right sidebar.




Parking Might Reduce Tax Revenue

June 6, 2014 Featured, Parking 5 Comments
Parking lot in midtown
Parking lot in midtown

For decades St. Louis has torn down building after building to make room for increasing amounts of parking, our zoning sets minimum parking requirements for most of the city.  Many would argue this is necessary to keep up with the times, but new research discovers this may result in negative consequences:

“In the ’50s and ’60s, cities did things like subsidize garage parking, and they condemned buildings so the lots could be used for parking,” says Norman Garrick, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Connecticut. Many, he adds, still require a minimal number of parking spots to be added for each new development. But it turns out that all the parking doesn’t pay off.

A pair of forthcoming studies by Garrick and several of his UConn colleagues examine the economic and sociological impacts of parking trends in six U.S. cities from 1960 to 2000. They conclude that some car-centric cities forfeit more than a thousand dollars per parking space per year in potential municipal revenues by using land for parking rather than more lucrative alternatives. The researchers also found that minimum parking requirements inhibit development and exacerbate traffic by placing incentives on car use rather than on walking and cycling. (Businessweek: American Cities Are Haunted by Too Many Parking Spaces)

I’ve download the studies from the 2014 Transportation Research Board’s 93rd annual meeting, but I haven’t had a chance to read the full list yet. I’ve scanned the paper referenced above, the title is:


The conclusion was “a substantial consequence of parking consuming a large proportion of land in cities is the loss of significant amounts of potential tax revenue.”

— Steve Patterson




Notice of Open Meeting: Parking Commission of the City of St. Louis
Tomorrow at 12pm CST.
The meeting will be live-streamed via the STL Treasurer Facebook page.
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