Home » Parking » Recent Articles:

Metered Parking: Downtown To Be Treated The Same As The Rest Of St. Louis Starting July 1st

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:

For years downtown parking meters have been free on Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays.
For years downtown parking meters have indicated parking was free on Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays. No mention of only 2 hours being free

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.

Cover of the most recent Downtown Parking Guide from the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis reinforces the common understanding of the existing free weekends policy.
Cover of the most recent Downtown Parking Guide from the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis reinforces the common understanding of the existing free weekends policy.

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 treasurer’s website also references RsMO 82.487, relating to the duties of the parking commission. Who is this parking commission anyway?

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

 

Central Valet Zone Now On Tucker

I’ve been writing about valet parking since July 2005. Years ago valets would take every on-street parking space on the block in front of the restaurant that hired them. leaving no spaces for the public to use. They’d place valet signs in bike lanes.

Finally the city to placed signs on the meter of the spaces that were permitted for valet service, including days of the week and hours of operation. The valets continued to take more spaces than given, again inconveniencing the general public. For example, until recently, we had three different valet stands in the two city blocks of Washington Ave between 10th and Tucker (12th), two were directly across the street from each other!

The city has permitted valet on Thursday-Saturday evenings after 6pm. Lately the city did something it should’ve done 8 years ago — created a central valet zone to cover these two blocks. So now on Tucker from St. Charles St to Washington Ave you have a bus stop and a valet zone. This area didn’t have any on-street parking before, it was just excessively wide.

Half the block from St. Charles St to Washington Ave is now designated for valet parking 3 nights per week after 6pm.
Half the block from St. Charles St to Washington Ave is now designated for valet parking 3 nights per week after 6pm. Copia, Prime 1000 & Mosaic customers now valet here.

Valet problems are solved, right? Wrong! The valet companies still feel they have the right to take public parking whenever and where ever they like.

Valets covered two meters in front of Prime 1000 on Monday May 13th, I took this photo at 3:50pm.
Valets covered two meters in front of Prime 1000 on Monday May 13th, I took this photo at 3:50pm.

Empty spaces mean the city isn’t getting revenue to pay off bonds to cover parking garage debt. Since it was before 5pm I was able to email the above pic to the appropriate people so they could come out and tell them they couldn’t do this.

I personally don’t care if valeting happens 7 days a week, as long as it is in the central spot on Tucker so the public spaces remain available for the public to use.

— Steve Patterson

 

No Parking Means No Parking

Ninth Street in front of Culinaria has many free short-term angled parking spaces, but the area in front of the door is a no parking zone. A driver of a Cadillac found this out recently…

Warning sticker on Cadillac parked in no-parking area
Warning sticker on Cadillac parked in no-parking area

I wonder what the owner of the car thought as s/he tried to remove the sticker? My guess is the city is no good, downtown sucks, etc. Some feel entitled to break rules then blame others when caught.

What’s the big deal about parking here?

Well, my guess is to make sure drivers leaving a space don’t back into the crosswalk or cause congestion problems in the 9th & Olive intersection. Enforcement only goes so far, design also plays a role.

A curb bulb could eliminate this problem, it wouldn’t have cost much when the 9th Street Garage was being built. Now it would be very costly to modify the area. A bulb out would be nice because it would give Culinaria more sidewalk space when they sell food & drink on the sidewalk during games, plus it would provided room near the entrance for bike parking. When the current bike parking is used the sidewalk becomes too narrow.

Don’t expect to see any change though, drivers will see an opportunity and then bad talk the city when called out.

— Steve Patterson

 

Wheelchair Users Unable To Pay Parking Fee With Credit Card

Just weeks before Tishaura Jones was sworn into the office of St. Louis Treasurer I posted about a problem with a city-owned parking lot on Olive (see Wheelchair Users Unable To Pay Parking Fee In City Parking Lot). In that post I showed how disabled drivers that use wheelchairs would be unable to pay the central machine.

ABOVE: However, those disabled drivers that use a wheelchair are unable to reach the payment machine because no ramp up was provided.
Disabled drivers that use a wheelchair are unable to reach the payment machine because no ramp up was provided.

At the time the city said they planned for the two disabled spaces to be free of charge, so disabled users didn’t need ADA-compliant access to the machine. The other night I noticed the city installed two old fashioned parking meters between the two disabled spaces.

The city's solution was two meters for the disabled spaces.
The city’s solution was two meters for the disabled spaces.

Problem solved, right? Wrong! This means those parking in the two disabled spots must carry coins to feed the parking meter while everyone else gets the option to pay by coin or credit card.

The pay-per-space machine accepts coins and credit cards, but not bills.
The pay-per-space machine accepts coins and credit cards, but not bills.

The city made an error and didn’t consider disabled users. Then in trying to fix their error on the cheap they created a problem of inequality.
— Steve Patterson

 

Metered Parking Space Ends Unclear To Some Drivers

April 26, 2013 Featured, Parking 12 Comments

It’s been 30+ years since I took driver’s ed in high school so I don’t recall what we learned about parallel parking. My guess is it focused on the mechanics of backing into a space between two cars. I do remember having to parallel park for my driver’s exam, we had to go to Will Rogers World Airport because no where else in south Oklahoma City had parallel parking.

This driver managed to center their car on the meter, halfway in two parking spaces.
This driver managed to center their car on the meter, halfway in two parking spaces.

It seems to me it isn’t common knowledge that spaces exist from meter to meter. When I took the above picture there were no other cars in front of or behind. I’ve seen people drive up and park this way simply because they don’t know any better. Not sure what they do in places like the 12xx-17xx blocks of Washington Ave where two meters are grouped to reduce the number of poles.

The Missouri license exam also focuses on the mechanics, but not identification of what is a space:

2. Park parallel to the curb, in a space 25 feet long and 7 feet wide. You will be tested for:

  • The position of your vehicle before backing.
  • Whether or not you bump into the space markers.
  • Moving into the space smoothly and at the right speed. • Parking no more than 18” from the curb.
  • Parking near the center of the space.
  • Ability to park the vehicle within two minutes.
  • Turning the wheels in the correct direction for parking.
  • Checking traffic and signaling before you leave the parking space.

Testing to make sure you get in the center of the space, the driver above may think they nailed it.

The obvious fix is to do what Clayton does, paint lines on the pavement to indicate the space start and end. But that would require lots of labor since the city has thousands of metered spaces. My preference is to remove the individual meters and go to a pay and display system:

Pay and display systems differ from road-side parking meters in that one machine can service multiple vehicle spaces, resulting in lower set up costs. In addition, this system theoretically prevents drivers from taking advantage of parking meters that have time remaining; this factor alone has doubled parking revenues in cities that have switched to pay and display.(A driver may occasionally take advantage of remaining time should a departing parker give away a ticket with remaining time, however.)

Message reads “This machine will calculate the correct parking period for whatever value of coins you insert subject to a minimum charge of 40p and a maximum of £9.60”

In addition, pay and display machines can also accept a wider variety of coins, and many even accept credit cards, making it unnecessary for drivers to carry large amounts of change. The use of credit cards has another advantage – the machines do not have to be emptied of coins as often, and the costs of counting coin and possible pilfering by employees who empty the parking meters also reduces their overall costs. (Wikipedia)

With pay and display you don’t have designated spaces, sometimes allowing for more cars to fit into a given area. However, you can still end up with drivers that park too far from another vehicle, reducing the number of cars that’ll fit.

In the meantime, I’d like to see these motorists get a warning along with an educational piece explaining how to park at parking meters.

— Steve Patterson

 

Advertisement



[custom-facebook-feed]

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe