Phoenix votes to raise downtown parking rates

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Parking rates on some downtown Phoenix streets could soon cost as much as $4 per hour during peak times.
The Phoenix City Council approved a measure in a 6-3 vote Wednesday to raise rates at parking meters around the city to help close its $37.7 million budget gap.
The proposal will see meters priced anywhere from 50 cents to $4 an hour based on demand and the nature of events happening nearby. Parking meters are currently $1.50 per hour during the day and free in the evening and on weekends.
The higher-priced meters will likely be those on streets closest to Chase Field and US Airways Center during games, concerts and other events.

"Three hours for a meter, that's 12 more dollars on top of your experience," said downtown Phoenix resident Jody Bates.
The proposal also will extend parking meter hours to evenings, weekends and holidays to encourage turnover at on-street parking spaces near restaurants.

"I can see where the businesses want the turnover but at the same point in time, if you're looking for a place to park ... you're not really worried about necessarily who you're parking in front of," said Scottsdale resident Matt Venticher, who was visiting downtown Wednesday.

Corina Tapscott, a representative with Arizona State University's student government, spoke against the rate increases at the meeting. She said students may have to leave in the middle of class to feed the meters.

"I think it's going to make it very difficult for them," she told 3TV. "That could mean that if they're attending a two-hour class, they're spending $8 every class they attend, and most students have five or six classes."

The city council plans to meet with Tapscott and other student government representatives this week to dicuss the parking meters around ASU's downtown campus. The students hope to convince the city to set those meters at 50 cents per hour.

"I want them all to be the credit cards, so I'm at least happy that that's going to be happening just because a lot of students don't have change or cash on them. But I want it to be where it's as least expensive as possible," Tapscott said.
Phoenix collected about $1.65 million in coins and debit-card transactions for parking meters during fiscal 2013.
City staff believes Phoenix can increase revenue by as much as $2 million annually with the rate changes.

"They don't know how to manage their funds," Bates said. "That's not the citizens' fault."

At $4 per hour, parking in Phoenix would be equivalent to Seattle but still less expensive than some other major cities. New York City and Los Angeles both have parking meters at $5 per hour, and Chicago charges $6.50.

The city council also approved a new utility bill tax based on water meter size rather than usage, mostly impacting commercial customers. The tax will add about $1.50 to residents' monthly water bills.

In yet another vote, the council decided to double the cost of senior center passes.