Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (Nov. 2, 2011): At a meeting that included no business requiring a vote, the Ann Arbor DDA board began a public hearing on possible parking rate increases for the city’s public parking system.
The hearing will continue at the board’s Dec. 7 meeting, after a Nov. 14 joint working session with the Ann Arbor city council, when the two bodies will discuss proposed increases. A vote by the DDA board on the rate increases would not come until January.
Around a half dozen people spoke at the initial opportunity for public comment on the proposed rate increases, most either downtown merchants or representatives of merchant associations. They were uniformly in support of one feature of the proposal – no extension of meter enforcement past 6 p.m. Extension of enforcement hours has been actively on the table for at least two years. Based on board discussion at Wednesday’s meeting, evening enforcement could eventually be implemented – but not for the current rate increase cycle.
Those who spoke at the initial part of the hearing were generally opposed to increasing rates, but also acknowledged the financial decisions the DDA faces. And some speakers put part of the blame for that situation on the city of Ann Arbor. Under a new contract, the city of Ann Arbor now receives 17% of gross public parking revenues, which could otherwise be put back into the parking system, reducing the pressure to raise rates. Under the contract, the DDA operates the system, and is responsible for ongoing maintenance. Rates are controlled by the DDA in consultation with the city council.
The details of proposed parking rate increases were first announced towards the end of last week, most of which would be implemented starting in September 2012. Some increases would be implemented starting in February. [.pdf of DDA proposed parking rate changes]
Highlights of the changes to be enacted in September 2012 include predominantly $.10/hour increases: hourly structure parking rates would increase from $1.10/hour to $1.20/hour; hourly parking lot rates would increase from $1.30 ($1.50 after 3 hours) to $1.40 ($1.60 after 3 hours;) hourly parking meter rates would increase from $1.40/hour to $1.50/hour; monthly parking permit rates would increase from $140/month to $145/month.
The board’s meeting included the usual range of reports, including the quarterly financial numbers and parking report, and updates on the Fifth Avenue underground parking garage construction as well as the most recent development in the Nov. 8 sidewalk millage ballot proposal.
At the city council’s Oct. 17 meeting, the council passed a resolution clarifying how the millage proceeds would be used inside the DDA’s geographic district. And at the DDA’s Wednesday meeting, mayor John Hieftje gave the clearest public indication to date that he does not want to take a position on the sidewalk millage, saying that residents would have to “figure it out for themselves.”
The board also held a closed session, under the provision of the Michigan Open Meetings Act that allows such a session to discuss the meaning of legal advice contained in a written document protected under attorney-client privilege.