Get Ready And Wait For Parking Meter Decision

Delays were the topic of the day at City Council on Thursday, with a proposed delay of WTP4 getting approval and a “no decision” on a delay of new downtown parking hours.

A motion to postpone the implementation of extended parking hours downtown was delayed until next week. The discussion was fairly short, coming as it did on the end of a long day of discussion about Water Treatment Plant 4.

Back in March, the council voted to nix the free downtown parking meter hours beloved by many and extended the pay parking hours to midnight and Saturdays.

Before it was approved, the city’s Urban Transportation Commission posted on the city’s website a survey in which the majority of the respondents said they didn’t want extended parking hours. Others have said that not enough people knew about or were able to show up for the public comments periods. Plenty of people have spoken out against the decision to change the hours, spurring the creation of a new group called Austinited Against Metered Parking Extension Downtown.

Council Member Laura Morrison sponsored a resolution for Thursday’s council meeting – cosponsored by Council Member Kathie Tovo – calling for the effective date of the new hours to be delayed until January instead of September.

Morrison said many people felt responding to the survey was their way of weighing in on the conversation, but the city council didn’t take the survey into account because it was not conducted scientifically.

Several members of the public showed up to speak about the new parking meter hours, some who opposed the hours and some who favored it. The opponents generally feel like the new hours will make people less inclined to go downtown and enjoy a night out because they would have to find and pay for a garage or else leave to keep feeding the meter. A representative from one of the churches downtown also said she was concerned about parking being available for weddings, services and holiday masses. The proponents of the new hours included a representative of Ballet Austin who said the students in their dance classes would be one group who would benefit from the availability of short term cost effective parking in the heart of downtown.

In the end, a decision was delayed to take into account amendments to the new parking hours that Council Member Mike Martinez said he would like to offer at the Aug. 4 council meeting. We’ve talked a little about what these amendments might be, and Martinez again said they would include provisions for low-cost parking for non-profits, churches, downtown workers and musicians as well as cutting down the days when parking meter hours would extend to midnight.

If you have a strongly held opinion on the parking meters, you have another week to talk to council members or figure out a way to make it to the meeting.

Image courtesy of A.A.M.P.E.D Facebook.

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