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Posted on Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 11:47 a.m.

Parking should be free in downtown Ann Arbor during Christmas shopping season

By Letters to the Editor

I have owned a business in the Kerrytown neighborhood for more than 10 years and have never seen the parking meter people as aggressive as I have this month.

Just this week alone, 3 of my customers have received parking citations. One of my customers even sent me an email after she got home to tell me that her ticket was for 3 minutes over the limit.

This is hopefully downtown Ann Arbor's busiest time of year and the retail community needs all the help it can get to keep the customers coming. This is not the way for the city to recoup revenue.

Where is the DDA in all of this? Isn't their purpose to promote the downtown? Free parking for the month of December would be my first suggestion! I personally sent Mayor Hieftje an email about this situation but I don't really expect him to respond.

Susan C. Little MichaelSusanneSalon, Ann Arbor


John Galt

Sun, Dec 20, 2009 : 3:10 p.m.

And now we have another article about extending the meter time beyond 6 pm. Yep, no reason to go to the overpriced stores downtown AND pay the parking costs. Maybe after a dozen more businesses close downtown they will figure out that they are not "all that" in downtown Ann Arbor. They will probably then attempt to "punish" the commuters or the renters with a city income tax. Then, as people and businesses move outside the city limits the town will resemble most other vacant downtown areas across the country.


Sun, Dec 20, 2009 : 2:37 a.m.

leave the workers out of it! Where would any customers shop were it not for the workers!? Why are the workers who already get paid crap supposed o be second class citizens? Why is working downtown and being paid crap supposed to be such a privilege? Are we supposed to walk three miles to our job form the fringes of town instead of just two? Ann Arbor is elitist enough! -Bitter and underpaid


Sun, Dec 20, 2009 : 1:31 a.m.

The city holds its citizens to a far higher standard of compliance than its citizens hold the city.


Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 2:06 p.m.

I laughed when I read this post and resulting comments. Are you kidding? Paying for parking in a metered area is easy. You pay for what you use. If you don't pay you are ticketed. It doesn't matter if you JUST parked a little over the purchased time. Pay for what you use or be fined. It seems this is just an example of personal responsibility. And if you are wondering, YES I too have received tickets in the past of overstaying my parking welcome.


Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 12:08 p.m.

Susan, I feel for you and can attest that I no longer shop downtown A2 because of getting several tickets in the past for running out of time by just minutes. The meter hawks have run folks like me away from doing business with you and other nice business folks.


Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 12:06 p.m.

We may have FREE HEALTH CARE, so why not FREE PARKING? If one is playing Monopoly there is one Free parking spot right so why not have one FREE PARKING spot. We are in LIBERAL ANN ARBOR, why not make them all FREE, the tax payers can pay for the,, better yet let the RICH business owners pay for them! Then they can reduce the price of their good they sell, ( called mark downs) sell them all then go out of business. THEN the GOVERNMENT CAN SAVE US ALL! Where is ROBIN HOOD, get real grow up,what we really need is term LIMITS not parking limits! LEVIN HAS TO GO you too DEBBIE!


Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 9:51 a.m.

bunnyabbot -- We're talking about validated parking just over Christmas to spur customer spending downtown. Admittedly Kerrytown does not have a parking structure nearby, but the rest of downtown businesses would probably benefit on the aggregate, It would also help if the city would subsidize parking validation costs for these businesses (for Christmas only). Taxing and increasing costs is not the only answer. Helping small businesses is.

John Galt

Sat, Dec 19, 2009 : 12:47 a.m.

This is why I rarely shop in Downtown Ann Arbor. Not worth the added expense and hassle.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 10:46 p.m.

larry- businesses have to purchase validation stickers to validate parking, that can be a big expense for a small business. Many businesses that once validated parking have since ceased the practice because of cost. additionally, Kerrytown does not have a parking structure. The city will tell you it is the one at Ann Ashley. This is an unreasonable distance for people to lug their groceries from places like the Farmers Market, Sparrow Market and the Food Co-Op and no one wants to carry groceries in the dark 4 or 5 blocks, up a few levels to their car. So Kerrtown District merchants would have no reason to validate parking as 95% of their patrons park in either the 4th/Catherine lot, Farmers Market lot, Kerrytown Lot, on the streets or in the Commie Lot when school is out. street meters have a grace period of three (or five minutes?). The big meter beast at the Farmers Market lot DOES NOT. Additionally this new wonderful machine is a piece of crap. It is jammed at least once a week, it frequently eats change and bills and does not always drop a receipt out for customers with their time stamp on it or the special "add time" code required to add time to your spot, otherwise you have to start over from zero, take too long digging for coins, oops, screw you, the coins you already inserted?... what coins? (and with the Farmers Market taking up two business days that leaves a low percentage of reliable working moments for the stupid thing) Add this with the fact that parking enforcement comes by no less than eight times a day, sometimes only 15 minutes later. Also to that parking enforcement does not always know when the machine is acting whack or was acting whack 20mins ago, so they wouldn't know that four people stood in line feeding it money and got no time credited for parking. Frustrated they go to their appointments after paying three hours of (uncredited) time only to get a parking ticket anyway when they shouldn't have. Two years ago an elderly woman FELL in that lot trying to get to her car over fear of "getting a ticket" Fire Rescue came. Last year I fed that meter (the old meter) I had a reciept that read the time it expired. I got a parking ticket that read one minute after my meter expired. Even though I was walking to my car with packages and right there as the man put the ticket on my car. I counted no less than 24 open spaces. Incidently, when I fed the meter I noted how many minutes I paid for, checked the time on my cellphone, but when I got to my car I looked at my phone and still had three minutes left. I spoke to the parking referree (rolls eyes) inquired how in the world they calibrate the time for the machines and got some long winded answer. So apparently parking time is different from what we all learned about time, Stephan Hawking might know the answer to how this is possible as I do not. Susan Polley would like to have you believe that customers choose to not put money in the meters and that must be why they get ticket. (really Susan? people like the thrill of the danger in maybe they will get a ticket?) Or that Free Parking is not an option because employees steal these spots from patrons, I assume that maybe a few do, but I also know for a fact that merchants PAY for parking in Private lots to the tune of $65 and UP a month depending on how far they have to walk (and for most it is at least $85) and that many merchants also pay for thier employees parking or at least help them find a private lot to pay for a spot in, concious merchants also remind employees not to park where they want there customers to be able to park at. Susan Polley would also expect customers to support local businesses and in doing so would be more willing to carry their purchases 5 or more blocks to a structure. (Of course the mayor would like everyone to just ride their bikes into downtown anyway). Please support local businesses but the city won't make it easy to do so. as stated in another comment from Susan the author of this letter to the editor, the city is now proposing enforcing meters until 10pm. This is an effort to force people into the structures, no doubt on the agenda will soon be to raise the parking rates of the structures. Making it even more expensive for patrons to support local businesses. Jake C. adding mins with your phone doesn't work with the Kerrytown meters. EVERY Merchant in the Kerrytown district will tell you the number one complaint from customers regards parking, not the lack of spaces, but of jammed meters and hyper vigilant meter maids.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 7:56 p.m.

If you look in the budget for Ann Arbor you should see a line called revenue enhancement, or something close to that. This is where they account for a projected increased in traffic and parking tickets. The increased revenue goes to pay Judges and others in the Justice system. Then the city has a decrease in the amount they have to pay the Judges and they can use the money to pay city folks. If the enforcement person does not consistently make her (his) number they are subject to review. But the city has no quota system.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 5:21 p.m.

Businesses could "validate the parking" for parking structures.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 5:11 p.m.

Unfortunately the news decided to make a different headline than I intended above. I was using a little "tongue in cheek" when I suggested that parking should be free during DEC. I would appreciate it if you republished my letter as it was written, thank you very much. FYI: I wrote the letter above before I found out about the council vote next Monday night with regard to extending the parking limit to 10 pm. I am totally outraged. I hope every merchant in the downtown area comes to council and speaks out against this on Monday night as well as the addition of meter "maids" during the month of Dec. AND I hope the covers the story!!!!

Susan Cybulski

Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 4:39 p.m.

I am also an owner of a downtown A2 business, so I understand firsthand Susan's frustration about our city's hyper-vigilant parking enforcement strategy. I care about the perception (which is a big part of the problem) that downtown is an unfriendly place to park. I decided to offer to feed my clients' meters when they visit our office. That small thing makes them happy, and hopefully happy with us. And that way, I'm doing something small to help keep our downtown alive and well.

John of Saline

Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 3:19 p.m.

Minor reminder: the meters accept those golden dollar coins (and the older Susan B. Anthony ones). You can get a roll at the bank and save yourself some quarter-feeding at the meter.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 3:12 p.m.

I don't think that the free parking thing would work, but retailing might be helped if parking was free until, perhaps 10 a.m. and stores opened a bit earlier.

Resident Tourist

Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 3:02 p.m.

If parking were free, how many local residents would park there instead of on the street? I would, for sure. That definitely doesn't promote business.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 2:58 p.m.

Okay most people who live in the City of Ann Arbor live at least 2 miles away... a forty-minute plus walk to downtown, each way, to shop and carry things back... come on, blake. The bus, however, more people could use. And to the whiners... if you don't like worrying about the meter expiring, park in a structure. Sure some of them cost a little more and you have to walk another 2 blocks, but at least then if you're there longer you're just paying for the extra time and not the ticket. Although I too like free parking... who doesn't?

delete this profile

Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 2:45 p.m.

I just came back from lunch and parked in the William/4th Street structure. The sign shows that there are more than 300 open spaces. I had to walk 4 blocks but I managed to survive. On topic, Free parking would be nice but with the amount of revenue parking/parking tickets bring in, it'll never happen.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 2:12 p.m.

I just got back from downtown. It was difficult to find a spot even with having to pay for parking. I don't see a need to induce folks to come downtown nor do I see an incentive for the city to lose the revenue. I swear each meter has it's own monitoring satellite.

Susan Pollay, A2DDA

Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 1:45 p.m.

Info in hopes of being helpful: 1) There is a built-in grace period on the parking meters which makes it harder to get a ticket unless a patron chooses not to put any coins or not enough coins in the meters. 2) free holiday parking was offered years ago, and downtown employees grabbed most of the metered spaces since they got downtown first, taking away the convenient/close to the shops/restaurant parking spaces from customer. Ironically making parking free made parking more difficult for shoppers, not easier. 3) there are parking structures and lots all over downtown that don't have meters and thus eliminate concerns about expired meter tickets. The DDA would be happy to provide parking maps to downtown businesses to share with their customers showing these locations.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 1:21 p.m.

"Instead of Kerrytown" I need to start checking my work before posting. Good point JAM...they wouldn't know how long it's expired. So simple.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 1:17 p.m.

You'll save monies at the mall of Kerrytown anyway. Once again dry your tears. There's a law that you must park withen 12 inches from a curb. I know this law, most people I know also do. If you don't you should brush up at the Secretary of State's website or get some pamphlets. There is a TIME LIMIT and people can't believe they get a ticket for going OVER the limit. There's a DISTANCE you can't go over, and people are amazed when they get a ticket for going OVER this distance. Would this person have to use a ruler to figure it out? Well how else to you meassure distance?


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 1:10 p.m.

How would a meter reader know how many minutes ago your meter expired? If it expired three seconds before they got to it, it could be an hour, for all they know!


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 1 p.m.

Just shop at Briarwood or that new Super Walmart at Michigan Ave. and South State in Saline is nice.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 12:59 p.m.

Perhaps you should consider locating your business to Ypsilanti.And bring your customers with you.

Jake C

Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 12:54 p.m.

I'm pretty sure most parking meters *do* give you a window of a few minutes before they start blinking "Expired". As a student who relies on putting as little extra money into the parking meters on campus as possible, I often find that if I put 1 hour worth of change into a meter and I come back a few minutes late, the clock reads 0:00, but the meter isn't blinking "Expired" for another minute or two.. Oh, and considering most downtown meters now have centrally-controlled internet access, you can even use your cell phone to add a few more minutes to your meter if you're running behind schedule! There's not a lot of excuses for returning late to a parking meter... heck, I'm a U of M student and I've managed not to get a ticket in many years of parking my car on-campus! I'm all for charity, but 'meter maids' are not the people you should be mad at.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 12:44 p.m.

Last week I decided to shop at Kerrytown instead of the mall. I parked at a meter and was not able to completely park in the spot due to another car not parking correctly. I may have been a foot outside the space and not creating a parking problem for future people looking for parking. I fed the meter and went shopping. When I returned I still had time on the meter but a ticket on my windshielded. The ticket was for improper parking and being more than 12 inches from the curb. If I was over 12 inched from the curb you would have needed a ruler to measure it. I can understand if my meter was expired. So much for encouraging people to shop downtown and thank you not be a little flexible during the holiday season. The city just took $25 out of my Christmas budget. Next time I'll go to the mall where the parking is free and no worries about get a ticket.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 12:37 p.m.

Free parking sounds like a good idea, but you're customers would never be able to shop at your store. Once you make parking free, then people will park all day with no consequences, taking up spaces that could turn over for more customers. I do agree the meter readers should give you a few minutes of grace time, though.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 12:28 p.m.

"One of my customers even sent me an email after she got home to tell me that her ticket was for 3 minutes over the limit." This kind of stuff amuses me more than anything. What part of "over the limit" does you customer not understand? What does it difference if they are 20 or 3 minutes over? I got an idea...put more money in the meter. Everyone thinks they're so special and shouldn't havre to pay becasue they're shopping at kerrytown? Give me a break. Put an extra dollar into the meter and stop crying.

Dan Darbor

Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 12:22 p.m.

I agree that quick enforcement of ticketing expired meters does a disservice to local merchants, but "free parking" is not a solution. In previous attempts at customer friendly free parking in downtown Ann Arbor, our experience showed that the curbside spots would be filled with downtown workers. As a local merchant, it failed to produce the needed turnover required for our customer's parking needs.


Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 12:05 p.m.



Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 12:03 p.m.