Washington, D.C. lawmakers and motorists as well as commuters are condemning a parking toll increase this month as being a band-aid for the city’s bleeding revenue bank rather than an answer to motorists’ needs.
Earlier this year, the District Department of Transportation began enforcing parking meter fares on Saturdays at metered spaces across the city. At that time, crews began updating more than 100,000 parking regulatory signs and nearly 17,000 meters to reflect that change.
Now the city has announced an increase in parking meter fares, which, in some instances will have patrons pay as much as $2 an hour.
The increases are set to go into effect this month and a spokeswoman for the City Council told the AFRO they were included in the revised budgets that passed for Fiscal Year 2009-10.
But according to At-large Councilman Kwame Brown, who will most likely assume the post of Council chairman next year, small businesses and restaurants have already been complaining about the lack of affordable parking downtown which has driven away would-be and regular patrons.
“In order to see a play or to get something to eat, and still get a $25 ticket is something that we will address when ,” Brown said during a Sept. 3 interview. “Restaurants are telling us that people are skipping desserts or that they’re not buying a whole bottle of wine because they want to actually have to get out before they have to pay a ticket.”
Meanwhile, downtown parking has become an issue for people who live outside the city and want to come in for evening events – particularly because the paid meters now extend to 10 p.m. Commuters who use the meters pay 25 cents for 7.5 minutes of parking time.
Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans said he has talked about proposing a rollback on the increases.
“What I’m trying to get at is having a discussion on the parking meters,” Evans said.
“It’s always at the last minute when the city needs money that we tend to increase the rates at the meters without any sense of why we’re doing it.”
Evans recalled that prior to two years ago, commuters could park free at the meters after 6:30 p.m., as well as all day Saturday and Sunday.
“And for a quarter they got 15 minutes, but that’s all changed,” Evans said. “Now you have to pay on Saturdays and you have to pay up until 10 p.m. , and people are up in arms about it.”