Pay By Cell Phone? More At Rush Hour?

With motorists circling the block to find elusive downtown parking spots, aldermen are proposing a dynamic solution. Its called dynamic parking. And its one of several ideas that East Rock Aldermen Justin Elicker said he hopes a new city working group on parking will consider.
Dynamic parking, invented by parking guru Donald Shoup, refers to a system in which parking fees rise and fall according to demand. For instance, during the busiest part of the day downtown, it might cost $2 to park for an hour. When there are fewer cars around, it might be only $1.

Theoretically, the system encourages people to take public transport during times of peak demand, making it more likely that people who must drive will find a spot. Its an idea that San Francisco is trying out.

The system would be considered by a new On-Street Parking Working Group that Elicker has proposed forming. Elicker, along with East Rock Alderman Roland Lemar and Yale Alderman Mike Jones, officially submitted the proposal to the Board of Aldermen on Wednesday night. It now moves to the City Services and Environmental Policy Committee, which is chaired by Elicker.

The proposal (read it here) calls for the creation of a group comprising city officials, aldermen, businesspeople, and citizens. The working group would have one year to explore how to maximize the City of New Havens on-street parking assets. The committee members would look at new technologies to increase parking availability and ways to adjust parking policies to foster economic development and improve quality of life.

In addition to dynamic parking, Elicker floated a couple of other parking ideas during an interview on Wednesday afternoon. He said hed like to see the working group look into systems like Park-by-Phone, a technology that lets motorists feed meters over their cellphones.

Elicker suggested the working group could look into charging for parking on weekend evenings, when downtown is packed with cars. He also mentioned flexible parking time limits: some spaces could have a two-hour limit at some times of day and a half-hour limit at others, for example.

Elicker stressed that these are just some of the ideas the working group could consider. He and Alderman Jones said they would like the working group to have a wide-ranging discussion looking at all available options for improving on-street parking.

The goals of the working group are manifold, Elicker said. It will look at how to increase the availability of parking spaces, how to increase city revenue from parking, how to address the environmental problems caused by cars wandering the city looking for parking, how to make New Haven a walkable and drivable city, and how parking policy can foster economic development.

We want to make it easy for people to park, he said.

Currently, certain streets are sometimes filled with parked cars, while others are empty, Elicker said. Then it can be the opposite several hours later. Creative use of parking technologies can address that situation, Elicker said.

He said hes heard complaints from people who are unable to find a parking spot so they can run into the Hall of Records and pay a parking ticket. Some people end up double parking, paying their ticket, and coming out to find a new ticket waiting, Elicker said.

Elicker said the working groups parking discussion will be a holistic one, in which many transportation options are considered. The impact of parking on downtown businesses will also be considered. Thats why its important that the group include two representatives from business associations, Elicker said.

Since parking touches so many other city issues, and since there are so many options to consider, the working group would have a full year to come up with a final report. A preliminary report would be due after four months.
City of San Francisco
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