DDA details new parking proposal

A new parking enforcement plan detailed by Downtown Development Authority Director Margaret Woodard would implant thousands of electronic discs underground at parking spaces to monitor visitors' comings and goings.
Woodard presented the plan to Augusta commissioners this morning during a work session.

In the proposal, the DDA would pay $300,000 per year to a company called Streetsmart for the monitoring technology, plus 14 percent of collections on an estimated 31,000 tickets issued to a collections company.

The DDA also would utilize Service Group Inc., the company it uses for downtown CADI cleaning and safety services, to manage a crew of seven people to run the program, Woodard said.

The proposal also includes a revised parking ordinance that adds an adjudication process for violators.

"What if people obey the law?" Commissioner Joe Bowles asked Woodard.

Projected income from the program of $885,937 just covered expenses, in a handout Woodard provided.

"We'll tweak it," she said.

The program will ease the burden on Richmond County Sheriff's deputies of issuing tickets, but it also could utilize off-duty deputies in one of seven positions created, Woodard said.

Currently, businesses interested in moving downtown are turned off by the unavailability of parking spaces, she said.

The system will provide immediate data about space usage, said DDA Board Member Sanford Loyd, who serves on the board's parking committee.

The DDA also is working with the owners of private lots downtown to potentially use the spaces for downtown residents and employees, Woodard said.

The program also would begin with a three-month public awareness campaign and a two-week period where only warnings are issued, Woodard said.

The sheriff's office supports the proposal if it has commission support, Capt. Scott Gay said.

Robert Cizek with Streetsmart said his technology was in use all over the United States, and was most prevalent in San Francisco, where some 8,000 of the units are installed.
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