Lower Rates Proposed For City's Meters, Two Garages
March 20, 2007
By DANIEL E. GOREN, Courant Staff Writer
If you park in downtown Hartford, you could be in luck.
The Hartford Parking Authority has proposed lowering rates on the city's parking meters and in two of the three city-owned garages. The plan is a response to some visitors' complaints that parking for a lunch meeting can cost more than the meal itself.
Depending on how long a motorist parks, the rates at the city's Church Street and MAT garages would decline by as much as 57 percent. The rates at the city's third garage - the Morgan Street facility - are already low enough to be competitive and attractive to customers, parking officials said.
On the street, one hour at a parking meter would drop to $1 from the current $1.50.
"We want people to come to downtown Hartford, and we have responded with these new rates," said James Kopencey, the executive director of the city's parking authority. "This is our invitation."
Kopencey said at least one independent survey has shown that rates in the city garages are among the highest in the country, outpacing the likes of Seattle, Miami and Washington, D.C. The survey, done by the real estate firm Colliers International, showed that Hartford is in the Top 10 for highest rates in the United States. Only cities like San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston were more expensive, according to the survey.
The authority's new plan - part of its budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year and still needing mayoral support and city council approval - would make the city's rates more competitive and friendly to development, Kopencey said.
The authority's board of commissioners approved the proposal unanimously last week.
"Everyone on the commission seemed gung-ho about it, and it seemed like people in the business community were gung-ho about it too," said Paddi LeShane, treasurer of the authority's board. "Mostly we are hoping to get people to understand that parking is not the problem in Hartford. If you want to come, there is parking."
But the authority's changes would include stiffer penalties for parking violations on the street. The cost of a ticket at a metered spot would rise from $15 to $25 under the new budget proposal - a 67 percent jump.
The reason, parking officials say, is that some people parking downtown have taken advantage of a loophole in the parking authority's rates that allows people to reduce the cost of the $15 ticket to $10 if they pay in cash, in person and within 72 hours.
"The economic strategy is telling those parkers that the cheapest place to park in town is at a meter, and not to put money in it, but to pay your ticket promptly," Kopencey said. "It became very clear this pricing strategy wasn't working."
The higher ticket price will have an economic incentive to follow the parking laws, he said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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