$6/Hour to park on streets of downtown Phoenix? City is considering it

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- The city of Phoenix is looking at changing the way it charges for metered parking in downtown Phoenix, including a rate of up to $6 per hour.

Right now the fee is $1.50 per hour at all of the parking meters all day and free during the evening and on weekends.

About a month ago, a proposed rate change was put on the table -- $0.50 to $6 per hours depending on meter location and local events.

According to City Council report presented at the May 13 meeting of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, implementing a demand-based pricing structure would be beneficial in terms of managing street parking and serving downtown visitors, as well as generating more revenue for the city, which is struggling to close a budget deficit of nearly $38 million.

"This strategy would allow the City to lower rates where there is minimal demand for short-term on-street parking," the report reads. "Conversely, rates could be increased to match demand during special event times and near event venues. … The rates would adjust up or down to match demand."

According to a study recently conducted by the city of San Francisco, 67 percent of the cities looked at used variable rates and all but Phoenix operated past 5 p.m. In addition, 91 percent of the cities operated their meters on Saturdays and 41 percent on Sundays.

In addition to the proposed rate changes -- nothing has been decided -- the city also is looking at implementing cell-phone payments and allowing drivers to pay for several hours at a time during evening hours as opposed to the one- or two-hour limits in place during the day.

Another predicted benefit of demand-based pricing for street parking is increased use of public transportation.

"Studies have also shown that free or low parking costs encourages automobile use instead of other more environmentally-friendly modes such as biking or bus and rail transit," according to the city's report.

Putting the proposed changes into action would require significant resources, including a new position at the Street Transportation Department, more police manpower to handle extended enforcement hours, and funding to cover the costs of creating and maintaining a demand-based pricing system.

Changing the meter rate requires an amendment to city ordinances. No such amendment has been drafted or proposed.

The City Council with gather comments from the public before making any decisions.