Parking rates likely to go up on street, in city garages

Fees at the Wall Street garage, as well as other city decks and meters, will increase by 25 cents if City Council approves a proposal by the Transportation Department. Photo by Pat Barcas
Fees at the Wall Street garage, as well as other city decks and meters, will increase by 25 cents if City Council approves a proposal by the Transportation Department. Photo by Pat Barcas

City Council will vote on a measure to increase parking rates at meters and in city garages at an upcoming meeting. Council’s Finance Committee heard a report on a proposed 25 cents-per-hour increase from Ken Putnam, the city’s Transportation Department director, on Jan. 24. The committee voted to move the measure to Council for a full vote. If approved, the new rates will go into effect April 1.

The city’s current rates — $1.25 per hour at metered street parking spaces and $1 per hour in city garages (with the first hour free) — have been in place since July 1, 2013, Putnam said.

Prior to recommending the increase, the Transportation Department commissioned a parking study prepared by an outside consultant. That study, now in draft form, is expected to be finalized later this year, Putnam said. One component of the study included an examination of parking rates in more than 50 cities in the Southeast. Of those that use parking meters, 12 cities have an hourly rate greater than $1.25; in North Carolina, Chapel Hill is the only city that charges over $1.25. If Asheville’s rate increase is approved, it will be $1.50 an hour, the same as Chapel Hill’s.

The increases are needed, Putnam explained, to fund ongoing maintenance and investment in the city’s four parking garages. The Civic Center garage, he said, is 40 years old. An engineering study last year found that its lifespan could be extended by 30 years with an investment of $9 million over that period ($300,000 per year). Other city parking decks will also be studied, Putnam said, and the department will develop plans for their long-term maintenance.

The city continues to move forward with its parking meter-replacement program, Putnam said. The first batch of new meters is in place around the Grove Arcade. Over the next two years, all city meters will be replaced. The new meters will allow the city to charge variable rates by location or time of day. Also, the new meters have a lighted indicator, allowing enforcement staff to view meter status in the evening. Rates at the new meters can be changed instantly, eliminating the costs associated with manually adjusting meters when rates change.

If approved, rates in city-owned garages will increase to $1.25 per hour, and the first hour will still be free.

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About Virginia Daffron
Associate Editor and News Reporter. Lover of mountains, native of WNC. Follow me @virginiadaffron

6 thoughts on “Parking rates likely to go up on street, in city garages

  1. Edison Carter

    Why not just simply place a small tax on the hotel/B & B bills, and leave the parking affordable to the local folks that would like to get into town once and awhile? Those tourists with the high dollar taste buds living the good life, and who can afford to stay here in an expensive hotel room or hefty priced B & B’s for their “get away vacations” can surly afford a few more “shekels” for their indulgence.

    • bsummers

      The State determines what local governments can or cannot impose taxes on. The hotel, or room/occupancy tax is one of the hardest fought-over. Currently, according to State law, all the money from that tax goes to the Buncombe Tourism Development Authority, which is mostly made up of hotel owners. They only spend that money on putting more tourists in hotel rooms. The City of Asheville will never see a dime of it, especially not to make life easier for locals, who do not spend money renting hotels rooms.

      In principal, I agree with you. The key would be getting the TDA to agree that a lack of affordable parking hurts tourism.

      • NFB

        How is Me. McKibbin’s promised advocacy for the city to get some of the room tax money going? You know, the advocacy he promised as part of the deal to get city approval for yet another downtown hotel in the Bb$T building?

      • Edison Carter

        Thank you for the clarification.

        Not a political comment, but It would be nice if the local folks, got a break. It’s one thing to waste gas driving around in finding a parking space when visiting Asheville from one of the other counties outside of Buncombe, and another to also have to pay a hefty price for that “privilege” in doing so just to attend a function, or drop money into the local economy via eating or just plain entertaining out of town friends and family. Tourism is fine, but when all of the basics of quality of life begin to move out of the financial grasp of the local citizens because we chase the almighty dollar (which could burst like a bubble anytime as we have seen in the past), the good things that made this area as great as what it is, also erode.

        It’s the old adage of be careful what you wish for….

        • DARREL JORGENSEN

          The city could sell reduced-price tokens to the residents of Buncombe county.

          But on the other hand, it all boils down to supply and demand. Local or not, like it o not, the spaces and garages fill up

  2. For a couple of years I’ve been advocating for a differential rate for City residents. My interest in this was bumped up by our recent addition of a surcharge on vehicle registrations in the City. What I’ve been able to achieve is this: The current contract with the parking service company runs out in two years. In the Request for Proposals (RFP) for the next contract we will seek a company that can provide differential rates. This will require new “smarter” equipment, but apparently the equipment gets changed out every 10 years anyway (as part of the contract). We already offer reduced rates for monthly passes. Because the garages are City-owned I don’t think Buncombe residents should get the same deal as City taxpayers, but they still ought to be able to get monthly commuter discounts.

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