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Posted on Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 4:21 p.m.

New study recommends extending downtown Ann Arbor parking meter enforcement to 9 p.m.

By Ryan J. Stanton

The debate over extending parking meter enforcement hours past 6 p.m. in downtown Ann Arbor has reemerged.

The Downtown Development Authority's governing board voted 11-0 today to endorse the new Public Parking & Transportation Demand Management Strategies Plan, which recommends shifting enforcement of on-street parking meters so they extend three hours later to 9 p.m.


Parking meter enforcement hours downtown could be extended to 9 p.m. if recommendations by the DDA are approved by the City Council.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The new schedule for enforcement would run from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. instead of the current 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. configuration.

DDA officials say the hours of highest demand for on-street parking appear to begin in the middle of the morning and extend until at least 9 p.m. They say shifting the start time sends a positive message to visitors about the "free parking" offered downtown from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.

The Ann Arbor City Council tabled the idea of extending enforcement hours in December, instead asking the DDA to come back in April with a more comprehensive plan for managing the overall downtown parking system.

DDA board member Roger Hewitt said after one final edit, the plan will go to the City Council for review on April 19.

The report cites Birmingham, Dearborn, Ferndale and Royal Oak as examples of other cities with evening enforcement of parking meters.

"I want to compliment staff on an enormous amount of work they have done in an extremely short period of time," Hewitt said today. "It is an impressive plan. It is not just a parking plan. It is a parking and transportation management plan — very comprehensive."

Hewitt acknowledged there will be controversy over recommendations made in the plan. He said the enforcement hour changes are being proposed due to dramatic growth in Ann Arbor's nighttime economy over the years.

"There are a lot of recommendations in here. One of them is for extended meter enforcement," he said. "Another aspect is geographically setting meter prices. We have some recommendations — and I emphasize these are recommendations — where we are looking at adding three meter rates based on geography, so the highest demand meters are most expensive and the lowest demand meters are very inexpensive."

The report also gives consideration to providing low-cost employee parking on the top floors of the Fourth and William parking garage and the Ann and Ashley parking garage to aid low-wage workers.

In the interest of reducing the number of over-limit tickets, the plan also recommends exploring the use of automatic text messaging when meters are about to expire.

Tony Lupo, a board member from the Main Street Area Association and manager of a downtown business, told DDA officials today there is overwhelming opposition to increasing the hours of parking enforcement among the downtown business community.

"We feel that a change to enforcement in these difficult economic times will cause great damage to downtown Ann Arbor," he said. "However, we do understand that this issue is under consideration because of city financial concerns and parking supply and demand considerations."

Lupo said his association's membership would be more receptive to enforcement change if coupled with parking system enhancements such as a free parking component and increased meter time allowances.

Association members also are concerned about how the changes will affect downtown employees. Lupo said members are in support of discounted structure parking, extended bus availability during evening hours, and discounted evening parking passes for employees.

"We maintain that a free hour after 6 p.m. in structures must be part of the plan as a crucial aspect and will headline as a benefit that will possibly bring even more people downtown," Lupo said.

Rick Warner, CEO of ParkingCarma Inc., gave a report today detailing his firm's work on a new software platform that could help visitors to downtown Ann Arbor find and reserve parking spots via the Web or via mobile applications.

ParkingCarma has been working on the technology for the last few years and has rolled it out in San Francisco. Warner said the firm recently finished digitizing all of Ann Arbor's off-street parking, and the program could be launched here in time for the Ann Arbor Art Fairs.

"Fundamentally, ParkingCarma is a software application built on the concept of network effect, so we aggregate all sorts of parking information to marry parking assets with somebody trying to park, so we improve the parking experience for people," he said.

"The system allows people to actually go on the Web or a mobile device to actually pick their preferred parking," he said. "We give people information about parking so they can make a choice. If there are certain times where things are impacted or you're looking for a less expensive spot to park, we make it easier for you to get it."

ParkingCarma's servers are located in Flint, and its data center is in Port Huron. The company is backed by the Michigan Economic Development Corp., Automation Alley and Ann Arbor SPARK.

Warner said the company actually started its work in Berkeley, Calif., and received MEDC and SPARK incubation money to come back to Michigan. He said the hope is to take the product worldwide.

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



Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 5:52 a.m.

the more parking costs,the less i will go downtown and spend money.


Sun, Apr 11, 2010 : 10:04 a.m.

Why is this in the education feed?


Sat, Apr 10, 2010 : 12:10 p.m.

Why would a 'Development' group propose a new financial penalty be imposed on the very people whose business they need? Is their goal to reduce the cited "dramatic growth in Ann Arbor's nighttime economy"? If so, they are on the right track...

P. Bruce Bertram

Fri, Apr 9, 2010 : 3:23 p.m.

How about NO parking fees. It works quite well for the City of Plymouth. They are able to bring in 5,000 people on a Friday night for free concerts in the park and many park within a few hundred yards of the downtown square. Pulling up in front of the store you wish to vist and not having to hunt for change, look for the central electronic meter master, or do anything but close you doors and shop or eat is enjoyable. We've become slaves to a master that only consumes (parking fee and fines).


Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 10:03 p.m.

Looks like we will be eating in Ypsilanti more often. They have great restaurants, NO parking meters, more locally owned restaurants. I think Ann Arbor should get rid of all the parking meters and see how well the downtown business do.


Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 8:28 p.m.

@amlive, very well said, couldn't agree more that this is a serious major inconvenience and we have more than enough of those to deal with every single day of our lives. There are plenty of fine restaraunts in Washtenaw County where you don't have to pay to park, you don't have to park 1/4 mile from your destination etc. I simply will visit A2 far less often than I do now which at this point isn't very often because I have gotten two tickets in the past two years after not finishing my dining in time to get back before the meter expired.


Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 3:46 p.m.

What will be the cost of implementing and managing "discounted structure parking, extended bus availability during evening hours, and discounted evening parking passes for employees?" It surely can't be made up in coins dumped into meters for two hours... the only way this works out in the black for the DDA is by helping to get us used to paying more for everything, so there is less outcry when they pull more crap later on. Not that I can imagine a level of crap higher than the underground parking/free land for our developer friends debacle.


Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 3:37 p.m.

And, since no one seems to have mentioned this, who wants to park in the awful 4th Ave/William St parking structure? The bus station is a favorite place for vagrants to hang out, and if they have to pee ( or the other), do they ask for the key? No, they go across the street and unzip between parked cars. Who wants to step in that and then track it into our cars? And some unsavory characters hang out in the structure itself to panhandle or worse. And in my opinion the difference between the old rates and the new ones should be funnelled directly into a fund that would help to keep our firefighters and police from being laid off.


Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 2:55 p.m.

This will kill the after-6pm walk-up restaurant crowd, and right before the slow summer season? bad idea!


Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 12:14 p.m.

Rrrrodney, Ann Arbor is not a large city(appx. 114,000 excluding 35K student population). The parking fees you describe may be applicable in New York or San Francisco which have millions in population with limited land mass.


Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 10:57 a.m.

I'd like to know how many folks who don't mind parking inceases, and other tax increases have income tax exempt inflated pensions, live outside the city paying lower property taxes, and actually ride the buses they say others can conveniently ride?


Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 10:47 a.m.

I don't get it. Tiered parking, geographical price indexes, hour extensions, specific free parking hour, discount employee parking, and parking reservations? Can a "hidden tax increase" be any more complex? And this same DDA leadership consider "banning cell phone use" a too complicated law for Ann Arborites and Visitors? These folks are not only out of "touch" they're "out of control".


Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 8:59 a.m.

The DDA is out of touch with the AA community. It is reflected in their rejection of a park on the Library site and of this unrealistic parking plan. It will send AA residents to other restaurants and stores that do not charge parking in the evening hours, the parking situation is already user unfriendly. Even in California where parking is at a premium, they do not charge for evening parking.

Mike D.

Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 8:41 a.m.

To all the people complaining about paying for parking between 6 and 9, I have a question: When was the last time you found a street spot during those hours? I find it very difficult to find street parking in the evening, mostly because people who work downtown use all the spots, making it impossible for actual customers to patronize businesses. You can't on the one hand say paid parking is going to kill businesses and then on the other hand say it's going to hurt the poor workers who would otherwise monopolize those same spaces.

local guy

Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 8:36 a.m.

Just increasing the hours of enforcement without some other major accommodation is economic suicide. We don't want to make the malls and outskirts more attractive due to cost of parking downtown -- whcih is already enough of a challenge. Unless we do what Tony Lupo indicates, that is provide some alternative incentive to use the downtown, we're in for trouble. The purpose of meters is to have short term use and to encourage longer term users to go into the lots and structures. We should adopt the model used in Birmingham and other small cities where the structures are free for the first two hours. Folks will then prefer going to the structures for the deal and leave the meters to those who are okay with paying the $4 for the privilege. Make downtown and easier and attractive place to shop to and eat!!! In sum, increasing meter enforcement is fine, but only if done in a smart way -- not just for the sake of increasing revenue. If it's just increasing revenue that's driving this, then in the long run the streets and the structures will be empty after 6.


Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 8:36 a.m.

Sorry, Ann Arbor officials are planning on cutting law enforcement. Therefore they won't be able to patrol illegal meters until 9pm.

Blue Eyes

Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 7:40 a.m.

Brilliant! Cut Police and Fire, now we'll need more parking enforcement staff for after 6 PM. Enforcement after 6 PM, different rates in different areas - both designed to bring people downtown, especially people from out of town. Reserve a spot from your mobile device - wonder how that works with the proposed ban on using a mobile device while driving. I'm finding more and more reasons to NOT come to Ann Arbor!


Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 7:11 a.m.

Shifting the start time sends a positive message to visitors about the "free parking" offered downtown from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m What, are these people are total idiots. Ann Arbor already has a hideous reputation for parking. Extending the metered parking 3 hours to 9:00 pm will send a message all right, a very negative one. "I want to compliment staff on an enormous amount of work they have done in an extremely short period of time," So what is this enormous work. Its like this. Lets see --Hmmm, extend the metered time and we will increase revenue. Why dont we just turn Main street and State street in to toll roads and get it over with.


Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 6:48 a.m.

Terrible, terrible, terrible idea for downtown, great idea for Pittsfield Township! Unless I have to go downtown, I go to the Southside Business District (Zingerman's Bakehouse, Japanese Martial Arts Center, Arbor Motion) where the parking is free and access to the highway and South side neighborhoods is convenient. Ann Arbor's officials have lost sight of what made this city such a wonderful place to live.

Tex Treeder

Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 6:13 a.m.

Bad idea. This hurts people who work evenings downtown and will make people like me (who often eat dinner downtown) think twice about going there in the evenings. Just say no. Signed, A voting constituent

Dr. I. Emsayin

Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 5:33 a.m.

AATA will need to extend its Newport bus hours so I can get to town and home from that area. This new meter extension idea will really get the nearby neighborhoods too parked up late in the day. People already park on the streets off Miller and take the bus into town. Now we won't be able to park on our own streets at night. Please realize that the DDA and city council are trying to extend the downtown into our neighborhoods, and then, of course, they will try to build high rises outside of the downtown area claiming it IS downtown now. Don't do this to our local neighborhoods into the evening, please. Mr. Hohnke, and other city council members who have constituents near downtown, your terms are limited if you vote for this.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 10:34 p.m.

How much did they spend on the study?


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 10:33 p.m.

Keep extending those fee hours! Perhaps this group should run the Sim City program. It demonstrates the relationship of raising fees vs generated income. If they are raised too high shoppers will go elsewhere. Chelsea, Dexter, Saline and area shopping centers are looking better all of the time.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 10:30 p.m.

Love this plan. This will make more convenient street spaces available for brief stops at local retailers & restaurants. Workers get cheap parking on top floor of structures which is where they should be parking anyway. Ditto Mike D & JimB. Atticus F didn't read the article.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 10:15 p.m.

extending the hours and increasing the rates?! That's pretty absurd. They aren't taking those who can barely afford the expenses of A2 into consideration. If changing the hours, then fine 7pm. If raising rates, then yes to main street --bc those who are there can afford it. Doing both? Ridiculous. I say we stay true to the old A2; not the new yuppies.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 9:55 p.m.

Just like raising the parking rates 20% absolutely KILLED our downtown restaurant scene? Give me a break. 80% of the traffic in downtown on any given night is from numbskulls circling the city looking for a free spot. Pony up the four bucks, cheapo, stop clogging my streets, and park in a freaking structure like a big boy. Let's get some night bus service and parking vouchers for the workers who need it. Why should you be able to park your big fat Hummer for free on my public land? It's called rent.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 9:42 p.m.

Simply a ticket writing money-grab... no amount of fabricated reasoning will change that.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 9:31 p.m.

Another stellar decision by those in charge of the library lot debacle.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 9:30 p.m.

Are these people TRYING to sabotage downtown Ann Arbor businesses? This is not a well thought out plan. As a downtown business owner I already see a decrease in foot traffic! This additional parking fee will keep sending people to the malls where the parking is free.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 8:47 p.m.

There are only a limited number of theses spaces anyways. Most of the time, I would bet that most of us end up in the structured parking anyways, don't we? (unless you like to circle around the blocks looking for a newly opened spot). So what's the difference?


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 8:44 p.m.

I work in a restaurant on main street, most of my guests don't live in Ann Arbor. Weekly I have geusts leaving mid meal to feed the meeter, only to remind them it is free after six, obviously the meeters don't say that. I wish I could take the bus to work, but when I get out buses don't run, ouch, fifteen bucks for a cab. Keep it like it is, or make it free.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 8:36 p.m.

I'm about half way between Maple and main, and I typically run down to Kerry Town a few times a week to stop by Sparrow's or the Co-op for fresh vittles for dinner. This is usually right between 6 and 7, and I rarely have to worry about the meters. If meters are enforced beyond 6:00, I have to admit, I'll probably just head west instead. It's not about the 50 cents I have to drop in the meter, it's just that it's one more little tiny inconvenience. Maybe it's irrational, maybe it's a totally precranial rebellious response, but that's the way that it is. Scrounging for coins I never have, or walking to the other side of the lot to swipe my card, then run back to my spot because I forgot the number, then back to the box, yadda yadda, maybe this isn't something I should be whining about. I won't be whining about it though, I'll probably just turn the other way and head out to Plums for my peppers and chicken breast instead. Maybe it sounds stupid to let such a little thing as feeding the meter bother me, but dammit, I deal with enough little things that stress me out during the day that one more little thing like this after work is just not what I need. Where does this money go anyway? Does it go to the city budget for road repairs we so desperately need, or does it go to the DDA so they can put up more lame signs around town or hire a $125,000 consultant to tell us how we can beautify the entrances to the city? This is stupid. I hope council members actually listen to the people of this city on this one, rather than the members of the DDA, from whatever strange little bubble they seem to live within.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 8:25 p.m.

Please, raise the rates. We're happy to welcome all of your customers here in Ypsilanti.

Anonymous Commentor

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 8:13 p.m.

This would be a completely idiotic move. Way to stick it to the downtown businesses that are hanging by a thread as it is. Yeesh.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 8:10 p.m.

"Birmingham and Royal Oak do it... Maybe so, but at least in Birmingham, parking is FREE for the first two hours in any of the garages. How about throwing that into the mix for Ann Arbor.

Peter A Webb

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 8:03 p.m.

"Anyone who complains about $4 in parking fees both has never parked in a real city and isn't eating out anywhere in Ann Arbor anyhow;" I strongly disagree. I eat out in Ann Arbor all the time, and I would be annoyed by $4 in parking fees, just on principle. Also, if Indianapolis, where I lived for 20 years, counts as a real city, you can park free all weekend at meters there and you get way more than 15 minutes for 25 cents, even when you do have to pay. The story is the same in Ypsi, though it might be a bit less cosmopolitan. In my opinion, parking meters should be used to keep spaces turning over and to prevent people from parking long-term on the street, not as a revenue source.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 7:54 p.m.

Sorry, but this is ludicrous. Does DDA really stand for Downtown Development Authority? Please, please explain how this promotes either a) downtown or b) development. It's past time to make downtown competitive, and this does nothing to promote that.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 7:41 p.m.

I strongly oppose this measure. It's annoying in Royal Oak having to pay for parking after 6pm, and it'd be annoying here.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 7:36 p.m.

Look to Chicago to see how badly the hijacked parking meters, rates, and extended hours are killing small businesses and in the process drastically reducing sales tax income by the city. So short sighted.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 7:30 p.m.

Good move. Chase business awya form downdtown, especially when the students are away. The commision can't hide behind the report. The results were a forgone conclusion.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 7:24 p.m.

Good thing it's an election year or they'd be putting meters in our driveways too. What happened to nice Ann Arbor? Every day they poke us, prod us and threaten with worse.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 7:06 p.m.

I don't necessarily believe the DDA needs increased funding, but anyone who claims that $2 will cause them to remarkably change their lifestyle is probably an out-of-town freeloader in the first place..........

Ian Casselberry

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 6:37 p.m.

I'm not in favor of this, but if the meters DO get extended to 9 p.m., I'd like to see the time limits extended also. If you're going to a movie or a concert, having dinner, meeting friends at a bar, etc., it would nice to pay for three hours and not worry about having to run out and feed a meter. Also have to agree that the "free" 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. is pretty meaningless, unless you're stopping downtown to get a cup of coffee.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 6:26 p.m.

"They say shifting the start time sends a positive message to visitors about the "free parking" offered downtown from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m." A spectacular piece of spin to help deflect the fact that meter feeding is going from 10 hours to 12 hours. The only thing I can think of to do down town before 9 AM is to pay my parking fines.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 6:16 p.m.

To whoever said it is the employees, know nothing about working downtown in a restaurant/nightime business. The meters should be their last choice. Choosing a garage or lot is the way to go, AND if they want to make it even better, they can car pool, take the bus, or any number of things to avoid the parking system being burdened with their cars taking up space for people who could actually go to their business. I eat downtown now, i will eat downtown if there are meters 24/7. Though I am very much in favor of CC or debit cards. I have plenty of pennies in my car, but the meters wont take them. I also carry bills and credit cards in my wallet. I also wish the meters would be for a time period, but a refund if you went under. If I am there for 10 minutes, but paid for an hour I should get money back. It can be impossible to know how long something will take before it starts, an nothing worse than rushing to avoid a ticket, or finding out the wait is 2 hours and you don't keep the parking spot.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 5:54 p.m.

no what it shows you it is wacky wednesday... raise parking rates, cut 40 from emergency services and the mayor is still "gung-ho" to ride a train from a2 to detroit...todays headlines show how out of touch with reality they are


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 5:15 p.m.

Our how about these for the next headlines: "New study recommends extending City of Ann Arbor tax collection levels equal to 16-mos liability for 12-mos worth of service..." or the variation on the theme: "New study recommends maintaining City of Ann Arbor tax collection levels equal to 12-mos liability for 8-mos worth of service..." No surprises here. Same old mayor, council, DDA, and administrator... different day...


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 4:50 p.m.

This is a very bad idea; who wants to worry about their parking meter while eating or attending a concert? If the money went straight to city government to pay for services, it might be worth considering, but the DDA has enough money and wastes it on consultants and other unnecessary process matters.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 4:48 p.m.

That's another $25 a month I can't afford.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 4:47 p.m.

these people are HIGH...they are hurting businesses, period.

John of Saline

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 4:41 p.m.

The meters are electronic. Could they be set to charge different rates at different times? An evening charge at half the daytime charge could be a compromise. Also, it's worth noting that Ann Arbor meters do take dollar coins, so if you hate carrying quarters, pick up a roll of dollars at the bank.

Atticus F.

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 4:32 p.m.

Mike D, I'm more concerned for the people who are working at those restaurants as apposed to the people who can afford to eat there. A lot of people in this town are extremely out of touch with the people who wash our dishes, pour our drinks, and cook our food. So $4 might not be a lot to you, but it could mean someone elses lunch money, or money for diapers.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 4:31 p.m.

Hey, Mike D. I will take $4 from you every time you want to go out to eat if it's so trivial to you.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 4:11 p.m.

I also don't mind paying for parking past 6PM as long as I can pay with a credit card. This will actually also help finding parking spots downtown, because you know the people who park won't move/switch parking spots for many hours since they don't have to pay.

W. Vida

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 4:11 p.m.

I hope they don't do this. But I am glad that they are going to the meters that can scan credit cards...not having change was always my biggest beef with feeding the meters.

Mike D.

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 4:03 p.m.

Anyone who complains about $4 in parking fees both has never parked in a real city and isn't eating out anywhere in Ann Arbor anyhow; $4 is trivial compared with any downtown restaurant bill. Paying to park on the street is fine with me if I can use cash or cards or payment stations. It's 2010, skinny jeans are in, and I don't carry around bulging pockets of change.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 4:02 p.m.

why stop at 9pm? go for 24-7! and, while you're at it up the rates too. what a nice way to present a warm welcome to those who support the businesses downtown.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 3:54 p.m.

Dear Carsten Hohnke: Vote NOOOOOOOOO! Signed, Your constituent


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 3:45 p.m.

Absolutely ridiculous. We will explore restaurants in other cities.