As we move closer to a final decision by the Indianapolis City-Council and the public learns more about what the deal could mean for the region’s long term parking meter reality, a constant light needs to be shined so that we can all stay current.Â I read a really good op-ed by local political blogger Paul Ogden of “Ogden on Politics“. His most recent post dated November 7th, highlighted the pitfalls of the latest contract modifications by ACS Â and Deputy Mayor Michael Huber of Mayor Ballard’s office. The focal point of the article examines how Indianapolis could opt-out of the contract every 10 years. On the surface this may sound goodÂ as a media highlight and seems to satisfy most of us out here who have been criticizing the plan. However, upon further examination, the details governing said opt-out paint a nearly impossible (at least in the business world) situation to get out of which essentially means ACS would always be the driver of this plan.Â Further more, Ogden wonders about the job’s being pedaled by ACS and it seems that they may not even be planned to be used for parking services. He even goes so far as to say that they could be part of a battery recycling operation. (??)
Figuratively, this really feels like a punch in the face from the leadership of our city. It makes me wonder whether or not Mayor Ballard has a position at the table anymore or if Huber is the only one trying to wrangle this one out to the other side for the (increasingly obvious)Â benefit of ACS. Furthermore, for people like us here who strive for optimum urban design, it represents another slight that would stop flexibility in planning when it comes to things like the Cultural Trail or hoped for mass transit upgrades. Matthew Stone of Indy Student recently questioned this at a local hearing regarding the plan, and was told that officials with Indyconnect have been kept in the fold so that potential planning could be incorporated into the final contract. How one plans for 50 years of mass transit service is beyond me, so that seems like lip service.
This all brings me to my final push against the parking meter privatization plan and involves my experience at a workshop I attended while at Railvolution last month. The workshop was titled, “Right Sizing Parking in Your City” Each workshop at Railvolution consisted of 3 presenters. One of the key presenters of this workshop was a gentlemen with the City of Glendale, California. He outlined a case study in parking space issues, automobile congestion and vacant parking garages. As another presenter had pointed out, one large contributor to automobile congestion is people searching for cheap or free parking. We have all been there. The trip around the block game to see if someone has moved. What Glendale found was that they had low fare parking fees coupled with long time limits for on street parking and uncompetitive parking rates and durations in the parking garages located nearby. This all combined to add to congestion for people looking for short term parking spaces to do business in the city. A survey performed by this presenter along with an intern, was able to build a set of data that examined peak congestion periods and number of vehicles on street and in garages.
After some minor changes to the parking fares and durations, they were able to eliminate some congestion, open up more street parking, and also fill the parking garages more efficiently. They also managed to do this without hiring an outside parking management firm such as ACS to get the job done. This is a perfect example of using parking meter planning to adjust for proper demand and in the end, opens up some economic options when it comes to attracting new business to the same area. I asked about how many employees they assigned to this and while he was unable to answer on the spot, he and the other two presenters LAUGHED when I described what was going on here in Indianapolis. So not only are city leaders crafting a poor plan, but they are also creating a poor outside image of our city in the process.
The City Council Rules Committee will take up the matter once again tonight. It’s short notice but if you have the time, it’s worth voicing your opinion. You can also e-mail or call your city council member. The link on how to find them is on the right side of this website. For tonight’s agenda, click here.