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Posted on Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 6:01 a.m.

Ann Arbor City Council holds off on expanding parking meter enforcement hours

By Ryan J. Stanton

Ann Arbor City Council members held off Monday night on a proposal to extend the hours of downtown parking meter enforcement from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Instead, they came up with a plan to have the Downtown Development Authority evaluate all options and report back to the City Council on April 19. They're asking for a more comprehensive plan for parking enforcement in downtown Ann Arbor - one that still could include evening enforcement.


A motorist pulls into a parking space on South University.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Council Member Sandi Smith, D-1st Ward, caused some commotion last week when she announced her intentions to bring forward a resolution to expand the hours of on-street meter enforcement. Residents, fellow council members and business groups took varying stances on the proposal over the weekend.

By the time Smith got to Monday night's meeting, she had revised her resolution to take into consideration the input she received. After a few more modifications by her peers - and even a brief recess for some more tweaking - the City Council now has a game plan.

The new resolution asks the DDA to present a plan to the council on parking management options, including hours and methods of enforcement, options for low-cost parking for downtown employees and variation of rates and meter time limits based on location. It also asks for a plan to communicate with downtown patrons, merchants and employees regarding parking enforcement.

"I think it essentially says the same thing - that the city will not continue to be in the business of installing parking meters, and they're going to, in a sense, bank on their authority: The DDA," Smith said after the council voted 9-0 on the resolution.

Council Member Stephen Kunselman, D-3rd Ward, joined Smith in sponsoring the resolution. It calls for the city to discontinue plans to install its own parking meters in near downtown neighborhoods, which is something Smith and others have been fighting all year as they've worked to find other sources of revenue.

Ray Detter of the Downtown Citizens Advisory Council told council members he thought the city's plan to install new parking meters was poorly thought out. He said it represented the creeping commercialization of near downtown neighborhoods.

"We believe that all parking should be managed by the DDA," Detter said. "The city should terminate any further attempt to put parking meters in residential neighborhoods surrounding the downtown."

Smith cited a 2007 study known as the Nelson/Nygaard report, which recommended all public parking in downtown Ann Arbor be managed by the DDA. Having dual management of two different on-street parking systems was confusing and a duplication of administration and other costs, she and Kunselman concluded.

Under an agreement with the city, the DDA has managed off-street public parking since 1992 and on-street metered parking since 2002 for a combined public parking system of about 7,100 parking spaces.

Kunselman and Smith pointed out the agreement stipulates the DDA has uninterrupted operation of the public parking system, yet the city-approved budget for the current fiscal year and next year shows new revenues to be generated for the city from installing and operating parking meters of its own in locations adjacent to DDA-managed boundaries.

The resolution approved Monday night also includes changes to the handling of revenues from the surface parking lot at the corner of Fifth and William. The City Council previously approved a resolution asking the DDA to demolish the former YMCA building and temporarily install a surface parking lot until a council decision was made about the future reuse of the site.

Smith pointed out that parking lot is not included in the parking agreement between the city and DDA. The approved resolution now directs net revenues from the lot to the city, similar to a deal reached for the city lot at 415 W. Washington St.

Smith anticipates the city will collect between $20,000 and $22,000 a month in new revenues from the YMCA lot under the changes. That money can be used to offset some of the projected shortfall from not installing meters in neighborhoods, she said.

Smith said she's still interested in hearing from the DDA on evening parking enforcement options. The same 2007 study she cited Monday night found 100 percent of on-street meters were filled during evening hours, versus 68 percent during daytime hours. She said that demonstrates a need for evening parking enforcement as a tool to encourage parking turnover.

Smith and Kunselman stated in their resolution that downtown Ann Arbor has changed dramatically over the past 25 years, with much more evening commerce and activity due to an increase in the number of restaurants and entertainment opportunities. Yet the hours of parking enforcement have not changed to keep up with the change in customer needs, the resolution says.

After approving the resolution Monday night, the council unanimously decided to table a separate resolution to spend $87,000 on new parking meters.

The City Council voted unanimously in October to extend a moratorium on installing new parking meters in neighborhoods until Dec. 14. That ban is no longer in effect, but City Council approval is needed to move forward with any purchases.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Wed, Dec 23, 2009 : 7:57 p.m.

"should we really be charging them $8 or $10 to study?" U of M is charging them about 20k a year. *Rimshot*


Wed, Dec 23, 2009 : 4:42 p.m.

I haven't seen any student perspectives here, but I think it's important to realize that the free meters surrounding campus buildings service 100s of students each night. Especially during cold, dark months, the option to drive to campus libraries or computing centers is crucial for those who can't afford to live within a few minutes of campus. A lot of students will come up and stay for six hours or more - should we really be charging them $8 or $10 to study? I'd prefer not to have 18, 19, 20 year-old girls walking home at midnight because they can't afford the meters every day.

Janelle Baranowski

Wed, Dec 23, 2009 : 10:59 a.m.

MyOpinion, Good point! The meters and the parking decks should operate more similarly. One idea, have both charge from 8am-10pm Monday through Saturday. The top floor of the garages should be free for downtown employees. It would eliminate the 'hidden tax' on lower-income workers (such as restaurant and shop staff,) while opening up choice spots for consumers and patrons. Janelle Baranowski

Go Blue

Wed, Dec 23, 2009 : 9:20 a.m.

BAM........that's the sound of yet another nail in the coffin of downtown A2 business overtaken by none other than greed. GIMME GIMME GIMME should be what council is renamed.


Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 5:49 p.m.

Parking decks are dead spaces. Put them underground, and space above is available. If the choice is charging $4 more for a night of unique entertainment or losing core city services, I say bill-baby-bill.


Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 5:42 p.m.

Homes don't take up an entire city block and 5-7 stories. Just becasue you don't use underground parking lots doesn't mean other people don't. I can deal fine with a tall skyline as long as it's pretty.

Atticus F.

Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 5:36 p.m.

Ann Arbor doesn't have the population density that other large cities like Chicago or New York have. Besides, everytime I go to Chicago, I always park at an above structure. I just dont think the population density justifies the cost of building underground, dealing with drainage isues, Excavation/transportation of 300 million cubic yards of dirt, ect. If your concern truely is the skyline, I would say why not build all homes under ground, and then plant trees on top of all homes...That would certainly put a stop to all of these hideous houses and buildings all over the world. Maybe New york would be a better city if it was built completely underground, with nothing but trees for miles.


Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 5:17 p.m.

That's if you think underground parking lots, a staple in many cities, is "re-inventing" the wheel.

Atticus F.

Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 4:16 p.m.

It's cheaper to build up, than to dig a 5 story pit and then build down...Just another example of our officials trying to re-invent the wheel.


Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 4 p.m.

I disagree that it is absurd. I think it's a great idea to get parking underground and stop the building up of structures. I really honestly think most of the people so upset by this have never ventured out of Ann Arbor to another town. Any city of any size you have to pay for parking at day or night.


Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 3:49 p.m.

Its a great town. It costs money to park. The structures and spaces are mostly maxed out every day. I have never been in another great downtown that it did not cost money to park. The city needs more parking, going underground is a good idea. It will cost money. After 6 you can park in a structure for $3 until 6 AM. Way less than the cost of a beer. What is the big deal?


Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 3:35 p.m.

Survey says....quit taxing us more!

Atticus F.

Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 2:10 p.m.

@overtaxed, for once I agree with you 100%. Not to mention having to walk half way down the block in the opposite direction of where your headed. I'm still torn about the machines taking credit cards... On one hand, it's convienient if you dont have any change. but on the other hand I think why has parking gotten so expensive that we need a credit card to park.


Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 2:10 p.m.

I miss the old school meters with the knobs that you couldlock a quarter in y turning the knob ever so slightly, buying yousome extra time before the lovely Rita couls issue that citation. Oh, and although it has been several years, what was the justification for getting rid of the deep discount on the parking ticket if you paid it within two hours of receiving it?

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 2:09 p.m.

Jordan Miller's blog has some comments from the mayor on the issue today.


Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 2:01 p.m.

Can I ask why the city needs more money from parking meters? It must have plenty of reserves. The city hall project did not need any extra funding, they had piles of extra cash to pay for it. I do not want to here one more thing about needed revenue the way this city is on a spending spree. Spending money on needless projects. Why are the streets downtown being narrowed at the corners, what is the need for that? Etc, etc. Let's also talk about the solar meters. You pay the meter, say 2 hours then leave after an hour. The next person is not allowed to see how much time is left and pays the meter for an hour, the same meter the last person has already paid for that hour. So the city gets paid twice for the same hour. It's robbery. You only pay for your time in the decks, why not at the meters? I'll go outside the downtown area.


Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 1:59 p.m.

@MyOpinion: Since when are parking structures free after 10pm? I have always had to pay no matter what time, except for Sundays.

Atticus F.

Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 1:51 p.m.

I would say that impounding a $20,000 vehicle for $100 worth of parking tickets IS unjust...Call me crazy.


Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 1:39 p.m.

Interesting that most folks here aren't commenting that parking structures charge up until 10:00pm, but the most popular parking becomes free at 6:00pm. I think it makes more sense to make parking structures free after 6:00 and charge a premium for street parking.


Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 1:31 p.m.

Well they tow your car after 6 tickets here. Amazing isn't it? You owe people money for something and then they collect it...oh how unjust!


Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 1:28 p.m.

I don't mind parking meters. I like to shop downtown. But.... I ask you, how much should the meters cost and how do you pay? I went downtown 2 weeks ago to get a haircut and had $2.00 of silver in my pocket. I emptied it into the meter and still got a ticket because my the meter expired during my 45 minute haircut. I don't think I can carry that much change around.

Atticus F.

Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 1:16 p.m.

This was my big complaint about them building this new underground structure at the cost of X-million dollars. The price of parking goes up for all of A2 in order to subsidize the new lot. Next thing, this town will be like the TV show Parking Wars...Towing your vehicle after 3 tickets, putting a boot on your vehicle, standing in line for 3 hours to get your car out of impound, ECT... not to mention being denied release of your vehicle because your paperwork is not in order, along with towing fees, and storage fees.


Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 12:44 p.m.

I agree. I have never sopported those busnesses and never will. Some of those "upscale" (for ann arbor i guess) places should be validating your parking.


Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 12:39 p.m.

It isn't the thought of the dollar or 2 that parking costs. We go to the real Seafood Co., Gratzi, The Earle or BD's and spend at least $50.00 on dinner every weekend. The problem here is that I'm am not going to support businesses that think it's acceptable to screw me out of every last dollar and can't provide free parking for customers.


Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 12:32 p.m.

Ha ha ha. Here comes more of the "I'll never go down town if I have to pay an extra dollar" speeches; So sad. Well at least you'll have more to complain about when they fire more city employess and close the Senior Center becasue the city can't generate any monies.

Pilot Dave

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

Just another reason to stay out of Down Town.... Ever wonder why the tallest hotel in Ann Arbor has been empty for so many years? Think of the revenue the city would have if they were not driving people out of the city.


Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 12:04 p.m.

Many months ago, Council decided it wanted to start pillaging the DDA even more than it already had (Council used up its agreed $10 million, 10-year DDA general fund donation in only 5 years). I recall something called the "Mutually Beneficial Committee" being established to negotiate a new deal with the DDA on how the City could grab more parking money. Then, the Mayor decided he didn't like the folks the DDA was going to send to meet with his committee, so he stalled on any talks until those DDA folks' terms expired and he could fire them. That happened several months ago and still no action. Now, all of the sudden Council has the great idea to ask the DDA to re-evaluate parking enforcement options (something the DDA's been doing since it was created) in order to find ways for the City to grab more money. It's deja vu all over again. Why not simply act on the resolution already passed and engage these committees to start negotiating?


Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 11:56 a.m.

How about we all just ride bikes 12 months a year? If you physicaly cannot ride a bike, a wheelchair lane will be provided. Charge cars $20 per hour to park downtown. We don't need downtown businesses anyway because people who make money are evil. This comprehensive plan will also save greenhouse gas emissions. I should run for city council. Vote Hector 2010!


Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 11:56 a.m.

not that we are some big city or big business like a casino. But at some point the idea of a shuttle lot for downtown employees needs to be looked at. The bus service might take you a long time from your closest stop to your place of work. But a shuttle lot somewhere with once an hour pick ups and 3 or 4 stops, once for each shopping district. until then 10-15% of parking structures (the top floor) needs to be set aside for low cost downtown employee parking. if 1% can be set aside for art than why can't the same be done for PARKING. ideally it would all be free.


Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 11:35 a.m.

I don't shop anywhere downtown now before 6:00 p.m. If the hours change to 10:00 p.m. I won't bother to ever come downtown for dinner, shopping etc. You have run all the retail out of the city and now you want to kill the resturants and bars too?