Residents could get sticker shock at Evanston parking meters next year if aldermen adopt a plan being considered by city staff to double on-street parking fees from $1 to $2 per hour.
That’s one of a package of changes being considered as Parking Division Manager Jill Velan seeks to achieve “demand-based pricing” for the city’s parking facilities, and help close a looming city budget deficit now estimated at $7.5 million for next year.
Doubling the downtown meter rates would bring in about $2 million a year in additional revenue, Velan says, while an increase to $1.50 an hour would bring in about $1.17 million.
Velan suggests much more modest increases for hourly rates in the three public parking garages downtown. She recommends keeping rates for three hours or less unchanged, but raising the rates somewhat for most longer time spans.
Velan is also recommending that the city eliminiate free parking at meters on Sundays, while continuing to offer free garage parking on Sundays.
All those changes would be part of a strategy to use pricing differentials to maintain availability at the most convenient parking option — the meters — while helping fill up the garages by offering lower prices there.
Other parking rate changes under consideration include:
- Doubling the long-term commuter parking meter fees outside the downtown area from 25 to 50 cents an hour.
- Replacing the free holiday shopping program with a validation discount model.
- Increase monthly fees at the Sherman Plaza garage from $110 to $125 per month.
- Double the cost of residential on-street parking permits from $15 to $30 per year.
- Increase parking lot permit fees from $60 to $70 per month.
Velan says some new options under consideration to increase usage of the Maple Avenue and Church Street garages include:
- Creating a discount program for entry-level retail employees.
- Creating a vacation rate and long-term storage rate for the garages.
- Offering a multi-garage monthly permit.
Velan says the city’s parking system will require nearly $10 million in capital improvements over the next five years. Those include lighting and security camera upgrades, a new parking lot at the new Robert Crown Center, resurfacing the lot at the Noyes Cultural Center and floor sealing and structural maintenance at the parking garages.
Velan says that with the 50 percent increase in downtown meter rates and a package of other changes the city could bring in about $2.2 million in additional revenue in 2019, which could be split between the parking fund and the general fund.
She says the city is running into increasing difficulty keeping its 1,600 single-space parking meters operating. She plans to bring to City Council on Oct. 8 a plan to replace 1,000 of them with pay boxes under a lease-to-own model that would not require a capital outlay to implement.
And she says city staff is gathering information on the possible market value of the Maple Avenue garage. She says a developer has expressed interest in potentially building above the garage structure.