Evanston’s Parking Committee is considering setting a new, lower rate for parking on the roof of the downtown Sherman Plaza garage.

The committee voted Wednesday to have staff develop a draft ordinance that would most likely cut the roof rate from the $85 per month charged now everywhere in the garage, to $70.

A pass card and gate system already in place would be used to enforce the new rate plan.

Parking committee members say they hope the new lower rate will encourage employees of downtown businesses who now leave work to feed on-street meters several times a day to switch to parking in the garage.

That would open up more on-street parking for customers of the businesses who often have trouble finding a space now.

Even with downtown meter rates recently raised to 75-cents an hour, many downtown retail employees who work less than a 40 hour week find it cheaper to park at meters than in the garage — as long as they manage to avoid parking tickets.

A worker would have to be on the job more than 110 hours a month before parking meter fees would match the cost of a monthly garage parking permit at the current rate. The hourly parking rate at the garage is $1.

Transportation Director Rick Voss said the company managing the city’s garages anticipates that at least 20 percent of the people who take advantage of the reduced-price permits would be new customers, resulting in at least a modest increase in revenue for the garage.

Voss says the 213 spaces on the top level of the garage now are almost always vacant.

Committee member Jonathan Perman, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said the $70 rate might still be too high. “Someone with an annual salary of $30,000 or $40,000 probably is not buying an $85 monthly permit now and they’re still not likely to do it at $70,” Perman said.

The committee also voted to move forward immediately with plans to revamp the short-term parking area at the base of the garage.

The area on the first parking level that now is limited to one-hour parking will switch to having a two-hour limit and will be expanded to also cover the garage’s second level.

Merchants have complained that their customers find the one-hour limit insufficient to complete their shopping.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Parking Garage
    Hello…parking garage top floors are empty… REDUCE the price…how long does it take to make an intelligent decision? Of course, these Evanston employees can’t afford the current prices. They are ridiculous! This will help everyone, and the city will still make money.

  2. Increase On-Street Rates and Meter Technology
    There is virtually no financial incentive to park in the garages. On-street parking is intended for short-term use. Increase the on-street parking to $1/hr to make the garages at least equitable to the on-street meters. People don’t drive downtown to park… they come to downtown to shop/eat at a number of unique places and experience the character and activity of downtown. There is plenty of parking at affordable rates in the garages.

    The city should invest in electronic pay-and-display meters that allow you to pay with your credit card and allow for variable parking rates depending on the time of day to react to supply/demand. Rates are higher when it’s typically busy and lower when it’s typically less busy. Get rid of these old-school meters that only take coins.

    1. I agree that the garages should be at least the same price
      It seems like a no-brainer. Make the meter price the same as the garage price, and I bet most employees will start using the garages just so they don’t have to go “feed the meter” every 2 hours.

      Also, isn’t there a 2 hour limit for parking at meters? How can an employee park there for longer than 2 hours (even if they’re feeding the meter) without being ticketed? Other cities do this, as I’ve found out.

      I like the pay and display boxes in Chicago, and it’s nice to be able to pay with a credit card if I don’t have change, but I do think that they’re a little more confusing for people to use who aren’t familiar with the system. Also, if we get rid of the coin meters, where would everyone park their bikes?

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