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Posted on Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor DDA addressing 'increasingly tight availability of parking in the downtown'

By Ryan J. Stanton


The entrance to the new Library Lane underground parking garage off Fifth Avenue in downtown Ann Arbor. In the background, the new Blake Transit Center takes shape last month.

Ryan J. Stanton |

A year after adding 700-plus parking spaces with the opening of a new underground garage, Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority leaders say parking demand is strong.

In fact, there's a wait list of more than 100 people seeking monthly permits for the subterranean garage off Fifth Avenue, said DDA Executive Director Susan Pollay.


Ann Arbor DDA Executive Director Susan Pollay and DDA Treasurer Roger Hewitt appear before the City Council Monday night.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"It really is a mix — everything from the banks to the retail shops to the tech companies," she said of those on the wait list for permits. "We've got residents who are looking for them. The diversity of downtown, I think, is showing itself on this list."

The DDA could fulfill those requests for permits, Pollay said, but it purposefully is keeping a minimum of 150 spaces in the garage open for hourly use by library patrons.

The Ann Arbor City Council and the DDA held their annual joint work session Monday night to talk about downtown parking issues.

DDA officials reported there were 446,726 more hourly patrons in 2012-13 than in 2005-06 — up from 1.7 million to nearly 2.2 million.

But for the first time in several years, the number of hourly patrons actually dropped slightly this past year, according to information presented by DDA officials.

Roger Hewitt, the DDA's treasurer, noted the hourly patrons figure represents merely "tickets pulled," and not overall parking system use, which DDA officials believe is up by about 5 percent.

"Our conclusion is people who are coming in and pulling tickets are staying longer than they have in the past, so it's not a decline in the hours of use — just the number of tickets pulled," Hewitt said. "I suspect there are more people working downtown and parking hourly, and that's why you're getting longer stays. It has to do more with workers as opposed to visitors staying."

In an effort to better manage the demand for downtown parking, the DDA last year began experimenting with a new pricing model. It raised the monthly permit rate for the Maynard and Liberty Square parking garages, which are in high demand, to $155 a month, while pricing other garages at $145 a month. And it set the new Library Lane garage artificially low at $95 a month.

DDA officials said that's been effective in shifting demand and freeing up parking spaces that have allowed tech companies to grow along Liberty Street.

"If we're going to continue to have job growth in the tech sector downtown, we're going to have to address what is becoming an increasingly tight availability of parking in the downtown," Hewitt said. "That doesn't necessarily mean it has to be addressed with new structures, but we've got to figure out ways to get workers into the downtown."

The latest experiment in demand management comes as the DDA looks to increase the monthly permit price at the Forest Avenue parking garage to $155 — in line with Maynard and Liberty Square. The garage is seeing increasing demand thanks to new development in the South University area.


Mayor John Hieftje listens to a presentation from DDA officials during a special work session Monday night.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The DDA has been working on a new pilot program for parking permit distribution in the South University area.

Under the current system, individuals — employees, residents and business owners — contact the DDA for permits. Under the pilot program, permits are allocated to building owners based on building square footage. DDA officials said it's an attempt to be a little more formulaic in determining how a limited number of permits get divvied up, and they're still collecting feedback.

"It's one of our first attempts at trying to deal with what is a very tight demand for parking in the campus area," Hewitt said.

Even as parking demand remains strong, DDA officials said, downtown transit use is increasing due to the DDA-funded go!pass, which downtown businesses provide to their employees.

In 2012-13, there were 618,041 trips taken using a go!pass and there were 443 participating go!pass organizations or businesses covering 4,182 downtown employees.

"It's a significant part of the entire transportation system of getting people into the downtown," Hewitt said.

DDA officials are expecting a new parking garage to open at First and Washington across from the Blind Pig in the next month or two, adding nearly 250 more parking spaces. After those spaces come online, the DDA will be manager of 8,249 public parking spaces downtown, including 5,326 spaces in eight parking garages, 1,100 spaces in 16 parking lots, and 1,823 on-street metered spaces.

Tom Crawford, the city's chief financial officer, said earlier this year the new First and Washington garage — built in conjunction with the new Ann Arbor City Apartments — is expected to provide 98 spaces solely for public use, while 73 others will be "flex spaces" for either public or private use based on certain hours of the day. Another 73 spaces are to be reserved for building tenants, he said, though they could be used by the public if they're not in use.

The DDA expects to bring in about $19.45 million in parking system revenues this year, including interest. And it's planning to spend nearly $20 million, dipping into reserve funds, according to parking fund figures DDA officials presented to council Monday night.


Council Member Stephen Kunselman, D-3rd Ward, raised questions about tax dollars subsidizing the downtown parking system Monday night.

Ryan J. Stanton |

That includes $8.4 million for parking operations, $3.1 million for debt service, $915,000 for go!passes, the getDowntown program and other grants, $3.2 million in transfers to the city's general fund, and $4.4 million in transfers to parking structure maintenance.

With the construction of the Library Lane parking garage complete, Hewitt said this year and possibly next year the DDA will be putting more than it normally does into parking garage maintenance, including repairs like concrete replacement, deck coating and metal stair replacements.

"For a couple years, during the construction of the underground structure — the Library Lane structure — we cut back on our maintenance," he said. "And now we are catching back up and making sure those structures are exactly as they should be."

Council Member Stephen Kunselman, D-3rd Ward, noted the DDA still pays debt service for the parking system using tax-increment financing — or TIF — revenues. He questioned why that wasn't showing up in the figures DDA officials presented Monday night.

"You're not showing us the total debt service," he said, later adding: "I would like to know why the parking system isn't paying for itself. You're making TIF payments to the debt — that's all well and good — but we're not seeing those numbers here."

Mayor John Hieftje said Kunselman made a good point, and if TIF dollars are going to the parking system, council members should see that somewhere.

Council Member Sumi Kailasapathy, D-1st Ward, said it was "really difficult" for council to evaluate the parking numbers with only a "partial picture."


The number of tickets pulled by hourly patrons of downtown Ann Arbor's public parking system since 2005-06.

Ann Arbor DDA

DDA officials said that information could be easily provided.

Hewitt said there are no plans to increase hourly parking rates this year. The last increases in parking rates in Ann Arbor went into effect in January and September of 2012. That's when parking garage rates went up to $1.20 an hour and meter rates went up to $1.50 an hour.

Hewitt noted annual parking revenues increased about 12 percent from June 2012 to June 2013, while the average rate increase was in the 6-7 percent range.

"So we believe there has been about 5 percent growth in the overall system — certainly in the 4-5 percent range — based on the revenues coming in," he said.

Hewitt noted the DDA installed new automated equipment last year in both the Fourth and Washington garage and the Liberty Square garage to help make exiting faster. The new garage at First and Washington also is expected to have automated equipment.

The DDA also is talking about possibly adding more electric vehicle charging stations in addition to the 18 already installed last year. Hewitt said there's heavy demand for those spaces.

The DDA also is talking about another "bike house" after success installing a 37-space secure bike parking facility in the Maynard parking garage.

The Joint DDA-Council Committee, which is working on issues related to the DDA's downtown tax capture, plans to meet at 4 p.m. Tuesday on the second floor of city hall.

Ryan Stanton covers Ann Arbor city hall. Reach him at or 734-623-2529 or follow him on Twitter.



Wed, Sep 11, 2013 : 12:34 p.m.

Funny how one of my last "posts" on will be about Parking in Ann Arbor of all things. Anyway, I've never had a problem parking downtown.


Wed, Sep 11, 2013 : 2:24 a.m.

The first thing that needs to happen is remove Republic Parking from managing the system. Get a qualified company in here that can manage the system will be the easiest and and most cost effective step to take.


Wed, Sep 11, 2013 : 4:04 p.m.

Yes because removing a company, finding a replacement and training them to operate here in A2 is going to be both easy and cost effective. You fail at business.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 11:42 p.m.

So lets have a airport shuttle by bus.Those customers get to park in the William an 4th street structure and pay next to nothing in order to do so.

Arno B

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 10:29 p.m.

I have been parking for a couple hours over the Monday noon hours in the old YMCA parking lot for many months. I have never found this lot full, even recently with AATA construction vehicles taking up some of the spaces. I find it either ironic or pathetic that some of the denizens of City Hall want to remove this income-generating asset and replace it with a "development" which will decidedly bring in more traffic and congestion. The DDA has put up a nice poster at the entrance to this lot to illustrate how the special surfacing helps minimize runoff. I guess they didn't have enough forethought to realize that this surface would soon be sacrificed to some developer (just more wasted money). During these Monday parking sessions I note that there are always at least more than 200 parking spaces available in the underground facility. That doesn't sound like much of a shortage to me. When I leave the old "Y" lot I pass the 4th and William structure. The lack of parking spaces don't seem very evident there, either; the sign at the entrance on William is usually shows around 100 spaces available there. However, when one tries to access the UM Hospital facilities as a patient or visitor, the parking structures there are almost always filled. I surmise that these hundreds of spaces fill up from 0600 - 0900 judging by the swarms of cars snaking their way downtown. The Plymouth and Miller "Park and Ride" lots usually are mostly full; I would suggest a feasibility study to justify doubling their size to ameliorate some of the daily crowding. The extent of the actual "Parking Problems" to me seems to be the burgeoning University and City Hall's lust for more and bigger buildings downtown; they are bringing this situation on themselves and the rest of us. I have yet to hear anyone explain to us weary taxpayears wherein lies the virtue or justification of jamming more and more people into a fixed space.

Colorado Sun

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 7:23 p.m.

I am tired of the Mayor's self-congratulatory tone about the DDA when parking has been an ongoing mess downtown for decades. Abolish the DDA! If Steve Kunselman was mayor he would straighten out the ongoing mess at the DDA and also at the CAC, led by Ray Detter for the last 32 years. Dump John Hieftje in 2014 and fire Ray Detter.

Eduard Copely

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 6:19 p.m.

Lots of free secret parking spaces available in Ann Arbor's downtown.

Jon Saalberg

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 6:09 p.m.

Very misleading title - makes it sound like there is a parking shortage in downtown Ann Arbor, which is not true. If you want to park all day in downtown Ann Arbor, spots may be hard to come by. For everyone else - most people - there is more parking than necessary, thanks to the surfeit of parking spaces, courtesy of DDA projects, including my favorite, Ann Arbor's Big Dig, the library parking deck.

Colorado Sun

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 4:49 p.m.

Maybe we should all emulate the Mayor and put on a safety helmet and bike down Main Street.

The Eyes of Justice Team

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 10:33 p.m.



Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 4:43 p.m.

Good for them for keeping 150 spaces unsold so that library patrons can park there. Shame on those who are able, but unwilling, to use public transportation.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 8:06 p.m.

The library parking lot will never be "sold out" until all surface parking is eliminated within four blocks. As it is parking fee revenue pays for less than half of the debt obligations associated with the construction of the parking facility. TIF revenue and raids on the DDA's reserve funds are used to cover the cash shortfall and prevent insolvency. If Ann Arbor's public transportation ever becomes mature like with Chicago, NYC and Boston, then Ann Arbor citizens will leave their vehicles at home and travel around the city by bus.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 3:30 p.m.

If you build it they will come. I guess from this article? In droves.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 3:26 p.m.

It makes no sense, if there is a shortage of parking, why the hurry to sell off the surface lots, and also, as shown in their five year plan, to fill in spaces in the Fourth and Washington lot on the first floor as a 'private build-out'? Perhaps it is time to consider that the DDA is not doing that great of a job at running the parking system, and we should remove this 'middleman' from the equation.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 7:56 p.m.

I agree. Please read my comment above. Some forces on the DDA and City Council want to facilitate a shift from fossil fuel vehicles to alternative transportation. Eliminating surface parking downtown is an effort to force cars to be parked in the subterranean library parking structure, which presently is underutilized, and in other parking structures including one just completed by the DDA for the new Village Green City Apartments. If parking becomes too difficult then those who still wish to visit downtown Ann Arbor will switch to buses, to bicycles or even to walking. In addition, the ReImagine Washtenaw plan wants to create a "traffic calming" effect that ultimately will reduce Washtenaw Avenue to one traffic lane in each direction. Additional lanes will be dedicated to buses and bicycles. Commuters who will be inconvenienced by the changes along Washtenaw Avenue are being ignored and soon Ann Arbor will no longer be a commuter friendly city. Maybe those thrilled by this possibility should post signs, saying "Ann Arbor - Commuters Not Wanted."

Steve Bean

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 3:20 p.m.

Peak finance+peak oil=peak parking. Before the Library Lane structure was built I was predicting a near-term parking peak. And here we are, less than a year after the structure opened and already past the peak. Of course, it may be true that people are parking longer, but that's just a distraction from recognizing the turning of the tide. Deflation is now well underway with the stock market being the last to peak (following commodities, real estate, precious metals, bonds, BRIC stocks, European stocks, credit, etc.), and parking demand will only decline further in the next few years, in spite of dropping (but occasionally spiking and generally less affordable) gas prices. Most of the employees at the new downtown businesses that have gotten discounted parking spaces probably won't even have a job there that long. The DDA won't be able to raise rates and they won't be able to increase demand. I won't be at all surprised when the city ultimately defaults on the bonds that funded the underground structure's construction. We could have managed our way through the peak without the structure, but the desires of too many on city council and the DDA board for growth at the end of growth outweighed the evidence (which was simply ignored and unwanted). The city will also have trouble selling the surface lots as the economy declines. I suspect that the prices will begin falling by the end of the year if they haven't already.William Street will not be 'connected'. This is just an early sign of a financial and economic decline that will lead into a deep and long depression. Our representatives and appointed decision makers are in denial of (or are simply ignorant of) the broader context and seem to believe that Ann Arbor is immune. It's not. Yes, we will likely fare better than most communities, but not if we make any more decisions like the one to build the underground structure.

Steve Bean

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 9:13 p.m.

"Hogwash! Parking in Ann Arbor will continue to be the worst in the state no matter how the general economy is doing." That's simply inane.

Colorado Sun

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 5:07 p.m.

"This is just an early sign of a financial and economic decline that will lead us into a deep and long depression." Hogwash! Parking in Ann Arbor will continue to be the worst in the state no matter how the general economy is doing. Are you planning on running for Mayor again? Maybe as a Green Party nominee?


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 3:22 p.m.

Man, what a drag.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 3 p.m.

Why is parking being built underground ? Muti level aboveground parking garages are cheaper to build and makes more sense. Ever seen a underground garage that has been flooded ?

DJ Earl

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 8:04 p.m.

I'm guessing Boulder, CO, did it, so we must do it, too.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 7:38 p.m.

Paul - D1 zoning ordinance limits the height of a building to 180 feet. If the entire parking facility is underground than a building of that height will have functional use of all the space and not just space above the third or fourth floor parking level. The subterranean library lot was built so a 15-story hotel could be constructed on top, such as was proposed by Valiant Partners. Of course underground parking is expensive to construct but Valiant Partners was delighted that parking was being provided at tax payer expense and did not require additional financing. I am sure that Village Green is equally delighted that the DDA has floated bonds in order to pay for the 244 space parking structure incorporated into its apartment building. After all, Village Green will have almost exclusive use of 146 parking spaces which is about as many apartments as are being constructed.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 3:01 p.m.

BTW, if we had better public transit-more buses, maybe some streetcars-there be less folks driving into the city.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

Is the DDA schizophrenic? The Connect William Street plan is designed to eliminate surface parking at four lots that are being extensively used now. The former Y-lot at Fifth Avenue and William Street has 83 spaces which are 70% utilized when considering average hourly income. By comparison the parking in the subterranean library lot uses only 50% of the spaces. Obviously, visitors and employees use the Y-lot preferentially over the library lot even though they must pay $0.30 more per hour for surface parking. And yet the DDA is anxious to sell the property rather than refinance its loan with an interest rate that current revenue may cover entirely. Replacing surface parking with new structure parking is expensive and most developers will not want to include the cost of such construction in their projects. In order to induce new construction the DDA may offer to build the parking structures and finance the effort with more bonds. Most recently the DDA sold about $10 million of bonds to pay for the Village Green City Apartment parking facility at 201 S. First Street. And the public will have ready access to only 40% of the parking spaces, the remaining committed for private use by Village Green City Apartment patrons. The cost to the DDA for servicing all its bonds is estimated at $6.6 million of which parking fee revenue will cover only a portion of the costs. The remaining cost is covered by TIF revenue and withdrawals of money from the DDA's reserve fund which has been shrinking dramatically. Ann Arbor voters should be vigilant regarding the DDA's use of tax payer dollars as incentives for private development that will be counterproductive for Ann Arbor. Objections should be voiced to City Council members and the mayor.

Vivienne Armentrout

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 1:10 p.m.

You mention the DDA's attempt to have property owners manage permits for their tenants. According to this account of the last DDA meeting, that has not worked out well. The Chronicle story also has much more detailed information on the parking system.

Vivienne Armentrout

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 5:57 p.m.

Thanks, however I wasn't being critical of the reporting in this article (the Monday night meeting was not reported elsewhere and this article did a good job of highlighting talking points and getting quotes from people) but rather supplementing it with a different set of information. (The Chronicle report was of a different meeting.)


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 12:51 p.m.

To free parking spaces, prohibit city employees, including DDA members, from using our parking structures. If they have need of a parking facility they should use non-downtown satellite parking lots. Regardless they should all be riding AATA busses in/into town. This is the perfect opportunity for the city to lead by example, demonstrating its use of mass transit resources that it is so strongly committed to, and recommending for everyone else. On the other hand, maybe we should consider that since we have not required developers of high rises to provide parking for their residents, the city has subsidized their parking, passing on development costs to residents. The theory that downtown residents do not need cars is thereby disproved.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 4:54 p.m.

Great idea!


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 12:48 p.m.

Didn't they cough up some parking spaces for Barracuda's big eight-block, subsidized move to downtown?


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 1:42 p.m.

Yep! Here are the details documented in a previous Lizzy Alfs article: "With the new 711-space public parking garage set to open next month on Fifth Avenue in downtown Ann Arbor, Hieftje said Barracuda was able to get access to all of the parking spaces they need at a discounted rate the Downtown Development Authority is offering. The incentive, which applies to monthly permits, offers a $60-a-month savings for those who move over from the Liberty Square or Maynard garages."

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

Gosh, it looks like it is time for A2 taxpayers to SUBSIDIZE more parking for developers. If the giant expansion of the pizza house development goes forward with no parking, isn't that exactly what we are doing? No wonder developers are racing to throw those up.


Wed, Sep 11, 2013 : 12:40 a.m.

No, we are admitting that we have a dense core in ann arbor, not a glorified suburb where everyone has to drive everywhere and park for free.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.



Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 12:13 p.m.

And one other thing. Who owns the lot across from the new city hall? That lot is empty every day and should be used by the city.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 3:59 p.m.

I don't believe the public is able to park there however. Who does the DDA permit to park there then? if you know. thanks.

Lizzy Alfs

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 1:19 p.m.

The one on the southeast corner of Huron and and Fifth? I believe First Martin owns it and the DDA leases and manages it.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 11:54 a.m.

The underground lot is one of the hidden gems of this city. The DDA was practically giving away passes last year to entice people to park there. It is the most accessible lot, with nice wide spaces, and is essentially climate controlled through the summer and winter months. I won't be giving up my spot, that's for sure.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 3:44 p.m.

Strange that something so expensive and being paid for by everyone is "hidden."


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

If parking in the underground library lot is so desirable then why is the Y-lot surface parking used more extensively, despite a 25% parking fee premium?


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 11:52 a.m.

Kudos, by the way, to the people mentioned in one of past articles that ride their bikes long distances to work, even in winter. That's tough.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 11:52 a.m.

I find this article to be very misleading and it could be rewritten in a completely different way to reach absolutely opposite conclusions. For example, we could rearrange this information: "For the first time in several years, the number of hourly patrons actually dropped slightly this past year, according to information presented by DDA officials," because the DDA implemented an "average [parking] rate increase [that] was in the 6-7 percent range." So the increase in revenues was actually due to a rate increase which caused the number of patrons using the system to decline. Now, addressing why there would be a large backlog of monthly parking passes, if the passes cost $95 to $155 a month, or $1,140 to $1,860 per year, and the cost of new construction (for example at the Garage Mahal) was $80,000 for a single spot, and if the cost to service the debt for an $80,000 spot is $4,000 per year, and transactions occur downtown in the $50,000 per parking spot range (for example a sale of a spot in the Sloan Plaza residential building occurred at this price), then clearly the reason for the high and unmet demand for monthly parking passes is that the city is giving away very expensive assets at a far below market price, a price so low as to cause it a loss, "dipping into reserve funds." If we build more assets and rent them at a loss how will that work out for anyone other than the developers and other real estate beneficiaries of the city's corporate welfare program??

Tom Whitaker

Wed, Sep 11, 2013 : 1:32 a.m.

DDA's were created to promote and revitalize downtowns that were faced with the competition of shopping malls with their acres of free parking, as well as cheap suburban land that drew home buyers, developers, and business further from the urban core. In Ann Arbor, our DDA also doubles as parking manager. A normal DDA would view a decline in hourly patrons as a big problem (fewer customers for downtown businesses), but in Ann Arbor, because this decrease in patrons was also associated with an increase in parking revenue (due to rate increases and other yield management strategies), they are touting it as a success. Seems to me it would be best for all if the parking system went back under direct City control so the DDA could focus on what should be its primary mission.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 3:34 p.m.

CalmDown - Part of the increased parking fee revenue may be due to extended use of parking spaces but also to discounted passes provided to new businesses. The problem remains that parking fee revenue pays for only about half of the servicing costs of DDA bonds and the fee revenue will not continue to increase at 12% a year. In fact the DDA projects flat revenue from parking fees in future years. TIF revenue is projected to increase which will greatly help the DDA meet its obligations. However, some City Council members wish to limit the DDA's share of the TIF increases which the DDA is resisting forcefully. Of course not all TIF is used to meet debt obligations and the DDA has used TIF monies arbitrarily in supporting the private sector downtown and favored city activities (like affordable housing).

Steve Bean

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 3:29 p.m.

CalmDown, your point is valid. This snapshot isn't very revealing except for the drop in demand. The important consideration is regarding how to navigate the market moving forward. So I think Stephen's point that there is cause for concern is also valid.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 1:56 p.m.

Steven - On your first point - the DDA reported that annual revenues went up by 12%. So while the number of patrons may have declined due to the rate increase, you still must have sold more parking hours to have gotten a 12% revenue increase from a 6-7% rate increase. That's what DDA (not is saying and it seems completely reasonable.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.

ERRATA: the word "depend" should be removed from my last sentence. Sorry.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 1:29 p.m.

The DDA would have to more than double the parking fee rate without a decline in parking space usage in order to boost parking fee revenue enough to cover the cost of servicing its existing bonds. This will not happen and the DDA will continue to depend use TIF revenues and raid its reserve funds in order to meet its financial obligations and remain solvent.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 12:47 p.m.

Are you insinuating that an article was written that seems to be overly favorable to the city government/DDA? C'mon.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 11:44 a.m.

Let's not get overly confident in the results of the go!pass. The numbers that were touted as record-setting in a previous article were absolutely abysmal; I can't find the article because it apparently wasn't tagged getdowntown or go!pass (but boy, I sure did find a lot of articles about how great getdowntown and go!pass are; I never realized how much cheerleading this site did for those), but it was something like 20% of employees in each business has used a bus at least once over the year or something, right? I mean it was ludicrous. It seemed like something that, if the number was multiplied by 500, it MIGHT barely pay for the salary of one go!pass program employee. And since all the subsidizing of bus fare just costs the rest of us money, I don't see how this is a huge success. If you really want to make Ann Arbor more livable, lower the property taxes (which you could do if you stopped hunting for new and creative ways to waste money) and put efforts in place to keep developers from artificially inflating prices. Is it just chance that I continue hearing about how people didn't buy in Ann Arbor because the property taxes were ridiculous? And yes, someone driving out a previous tenant and sitting on vacant property for more than a year waiting for some chain that is bamboozled into thinking A2 is New York City IS artificially inflating the price.

Tom Whitaker

Wed, Sep 11, 2013 : 1:21 a.m.

There's no incentive for the DDA to study ways to promote alternative transportation when they are dependent on parking revenues (plus TIF money) just to cover the debt service on the new parking structures.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 12:18 p.m.

I agree that we subsidize bussing too much. I like the idea of a city wide bus system, but let's be honest, but for the morning and evening rush hours, those busses are mostly empty. We need smaller busses in use during the day and save the larger ones for later rush hour times. We act like we are NYC but we are not. Too many empty busses all the time, blocking traffic, clogging roads, leading to more pollution. And since we are on the topic, how about timing traffic lights better on Huron, Packard, Huron Parkway, WAshtenaw...etc. Does Ann Arbor ever reexamine traffic trends, time at lights...etc? Does not seem like it.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 11:41 a.m.

And where are the masses that predicted tumbleweeds in Library Lane? Yah, I thought so.

Tom Whitaker

Wed, Sep 11, 2013 : 1:19 a.m.

And where are the DDA and City officials who promised that revenues from the parking system would cover the payments for the Library Lane structure? Did you miss the part of the article about these payments being covered by TIF funds---tax revenues that would otherwise go to the City, library, and Washtenaw Community College? There may be high demand for parking (as always), but how can you call this a success when they can't even make the debt payments without dipping into other funds? How can the DDA impartially pursue the best strategies for a healthy downtown when they are dependent on parking revenues (and then some) just to cover debt service?


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 6:59 p.m.

Maybe you missed this sentence in the article: "(The DDA) set the new Library Lane garage artificially low at $95 a month". Much cheaper than the other structures.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 2:57 p.m.

Whether you use the little box in the corner or use the google search command: "garage mahal" site: the results are the same and as stated


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 2:50 p.m.

@ EyeHeartA2: "search the site" for that term, not google. That's where all the wrong headed predictions can be found.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

Perhaps you can point some out, rather than spouting off from the cheap seats. A quick google search, per your direction showed mostly issues with cost overruns and delays.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

Just pointing out facts. Sorry if they trouble you. Search this site for "garage mahal" and watch the screen fill up with wrong predictions from people who never both to learn the facts but love to pontificate.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 12:44 p.m.

Any last thoughts from the Speaker For The Silent Majority before the lights go out?


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 11:19 a.m.

I have an idea. Let us actually park in all the parking deck spots and don't leave several levels empty every day from 6 to 10 hoping to encourage shoppers. Most stores don't even open till 11 and the city is losing hundreds of thousands of dollars every month due to a theory on shopping behavior that is not supported by any evidence. They also need more street parking opened up all around the city. Too many spots are being saved for loading or unloading. Also, why do i have to pay in the parking decks 24/7 but street parking after 6 pm is free? Makes no sense.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 12:08 p.m.

not necessarily. I end up working out of house, or using other places to park until 10. I have heard others also wait until 10 to park. It is a dumb idea, based on speculation, and a study conducted over a few hours on one day. We lose money with it.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 11:46 a.m.

Townspeak - How does this lose money exactly? It simply shifts the all-day, monthly parkers to higher levels. They're the ones who show up between 6 and 10. The monthly parkers still get a spot, the shoppers just get the more convenient ones.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 11:14 a.m.

I'm not a big fan of the DDA & City Gov't structure, but: when I moved here 20 yrs ago the parking was a disaster. The City had siphoned off the revenues to spend on less-essential niceties (think "public art"). The City has to make sure that there is public safety, water, power and transit (including parking). I remember when recently built structures were demolished because they hadn't been maintained. DDA may not be the best answer but given the options............


Wed, Sep 11, 2013 : 3:19 p.m.

What was needed 20 years ago is not necessarily what is needed now - that's my biggest complaint with the DDA.


Wed, Sep 11, 2013 : 1:34 a.m.

Tom, why aren't people listening to you?

Tom Whitaker

Wed, Sep 11, 2013 : 1:11 a.m.

No one can deny that the City did a poor job managing and maintaining the parking structures way back when, but they are now in good repair and operated by Republic Parking. How difficult would it be for City staff to supervise Republic Parking? Dependence on parking revenues has distracted the DDA from its primary mission and created a second, unelected City government that is implementing policy with no accountability to the citizens.

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 11:28 a.m.

Roger Hewitt actually talked a little about the history behind the DDA taking over management of the city's downtown parking garages and three parking lots in 1992. It was an initial 10-year deal through 2002. He said it was estimated at the time that about $6.6 million in structure repairs and $1 million in new equipment/paving would be needed, but it turned out to be closer to $50 million by the time the DDA was done repairing and replacing all the parking garages.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 11:05 a.m.

Why is there no mention in this article of the effort to sell land currently used for surface parking lots to make way for more unwanted development? If the demand for parking is really so high, why would we eliminate over a hundred more parking spaces, replacing them with structures that will create even more demand for parking? Of course, when it comes to the DDA, logic is rarely part of the decision process.

Tom Whitaker

Wed, Sep 11, 2013 : 1:05 a.m.

But Ryan, when the DDA has created a situation where parking revenues are not even covering debt service, what incentive do they have to encourage alternative transportation? "Robust bus service" does not provide revenue to the DDA. The DDA should be in a position to promote what is best for a healthy downtown and not be in position where they must constantly increase parking revenues in order to cover their ever-increasing debt. And new developments will not contribute to the supply of parking, but rather will increase demand. As we've seen with the Church Street proposal, and the Varsity, these developments only add demand, not supply.


Wed, Sep 11, 2013 : 12:38 a.m.

Surface parking is about the dumbest use of land in a dense area.

Steve Bean

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 3:47 p.m.

Ryan, do you know how many of those 100 people on the wait list currently have permits elsewhere in the system downtown?

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 11:15 a.m.

DDA officials also mentioned last night that they view parking as one component of a larger transportation system, and transit is a big piece of the puzzle. "The rates are getting more and more expensive and more and more businesses are choosing not to subsidize, not to pay for parking for their employees," Pollay said. "Our goal as that happens is to try to infill behind it with more robust bus system service."

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 11:14 a.m.

There is a push to get new developments to include underground parking, and the DDA also has mentioned the Kline Lot as the possible site of a future public parking garage if needed.

Jeff Gaynor

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 11:03 a.m.

In Germany, when downtown traffic gets too heavy - and parking gets tight - they close off parking spaces. That encourages people to use alternative means to get downtown. I'd state the obvious problem with this in most U.S. cities, but the AAATA does a good job funneling people in and out of downtown. Also glad to hear the bike house has been successful.


Wed, Sep 11, 2013 : 2:28 p.m.

Can't park downtown? Simple solution. I take my business and patronage elsewhere.

Tom Whitaker

Wed, Sep 11, 2013 : 12:59 a.m.

The problem in Ann Arbor is that the DDA has created a situation where it must encourage downtown parking just to cover debt service, which according to the article, they aren't even doing (they are using tax dollars collected via the TIF, even though they promised everyone that parking revenues would cover debt service on the new structure).


Wed, Sep 11, 2013 : 12:37 a.m.

Silly Sally, its counterintuitive but true. People get used to it being tough to park and take public transportation. When I lived in Chicago I could drive to work at any time and park downtown, but at $20+/day I took the train.

Silly Sally

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 11:21 a.m.

Oh, so very silly! I'm sure that they might ban or reduce more traffic from entering but why would they close parking spaces if parking were tight? Answer - they would not, only reduce traffic in.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 10:24 a.m.

Did I miss a discussion of how many spaces have been given away to businesses to get them to move downtown?


Wed, Sep 11, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

And Google hired temporary workers at about $13 hour for their AdWords division!

Silly Sally

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 11:24 a.m.

Shameful. $1.5 million to Google when we have so many potholes to fill. Hey HEY!, Ho HO, Mayor Heijfte has got to GO!

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 10:44 a.m.

I believe you're referring to the fact that the city offered free parking to Google employees from 2007 to 2010 as part of the effort to lure Google to downtown. That began with 60 monthly passes in January 2007 and grew to a high point of 320 monthly passes in August 2008. The number of passes the city provided to Google were tied to job creation. City records show by September 2009, the number of monthly parking passes had fallen to 181, and then slowly built back up to 264 by December 2010, the final month the city paid for Google parking. Overall, the city of Ann Arbor paid more than $1.5 million to provide free parking to Google employees between 2007 and 2010, according to records obtained from the city through FOIA.