Extending parking meter hours downtown

I’m okay with this.

Houston City Council will vote to extend the time residents will have to pay city parking meters on Wednesday.

The current ordinance requires drivers who park in metered spots to pay between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. The new ordinance would keep the start time at 7 a.m., but extend the period people will have to pay to 2 a.m.

The new change will not increase parking rates, if passed, but is expected to generate more revenue for the city, said Council Member Edward Pollard, who introduced the agenda item with Council Members Fred Flickinger and Tiffany Thomas.

“This is a way in which we can trickle on small amounts that will add up over time,” Pollard said.

City ordinance requires ParkHouston, which oversees parking meters in Houston, to keep a $2 million fund balance. Any revenue made that exceeds the fund balance goes into the city’s general fund, said Billy Rudolph, chief of staff of the city’s Administrative and Regulatory Affairs Department.

Before the pandemic, the city received approximately $10 million in ParkHouston revenue for the general fund, Rudolph said. Last year, the city received approximately $5 million.

Pollard believes that cash amount could double with the extension.

“The administration says that we’re broke,” Pollard said. “I don’t necessarily believe that, but I do believe that we are going to have to find ways to bring in more revenue.”


Mayor John Whitmire did not respond directly to questions of whether he would support the proposal, but he said that a robust discussion would likely follow at City Council this week.

“In this case, three Council Members are playing an active role by introducing an idea to help bring additional revenue to the city,” Whitmire wrote in a statement. “Such a privilege also comes with a duty to do more than present a good idea.”

Whitmire added that before this proposal could go forward, council members would have to get input from the public and weigh the potential unintended consequences of implementing the change.

While Pollard is optimistic about the potential change, business leaders who work downtown, where many of the city’s parking meters are located, are raising red flags.

Kris Larson, president and CEO of Downtown Houston, which operates as the umbrella group for the area’s development organizations, told the Chronicle he was first approached about the potential changes by the mayor’s office and Council Member Joaquin Martinez, who represents downtown – not by the three members of council who put the item on the agenda.

“What problem are we trying to solve with this change?” Larson asked. “Is this simply about revenue and trying to maximize the amount of revenue that the city can collect in the short term?”

Well, yes. That’s what it’s about. And it’s fine. Look, if you go downtown to see a show or watch an Astros game and you park on the street, you’re probably paying to park through 11 PM. If the hours in which you have to pay get extended to 2 AM, you might pay for a little extra time, like to 11:30 or midnight, but not that much more. The shows we see at the Hobby Center are usually out by 10:30 or so. Astros games start at 7 and thanks to the new rules are likely to be over by around 10. You might pad your time a bit to hedge against the risk of a ticket, but at worst it’ll cost you another two or three bucks. Most people will barely notice. I get why Downtown Houston doesn’t like this, but I think they’re blowing it way out of proportion.

And yes, we need the revenue. There are only so many options for increasing revenue, which is absolutely going to be needed to pay for the firefighter pay agreement. Hell, it was needed even before this settlement. I’m not a fan of CM Pollard, but I appreciate that he’s thinking outside the box here and putting forward some solutions, using Prop A to make sure they get heard to boot. I hope the Mayor doesn’t oppose this proposal.

UPDATE: The parking meter proposal was delayed for a week while another proposal to allow for more Council discretion in getting speed humps built in their neighborhoods was referred to a new “Proposition A” committee, which is a Mayor Whitmire creation. We’ll keep an eye on that.

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6 Responses to Extending parking meter hours downtown

  1. Bill Shirley says:

    some places in town are limited time (often 3-hour) parking,
    i would hope the time limit would not apply after 6pm

    (and speed humps are a menace)

  2. C.L. says:

    @Kuff… What’s next ? Pay to park in 19th Street strip centers…

    Hold on, I’m getting a report in my earpiece…

  3. I’ve noticed that local governments, MUD districts, Metro, economic development enterprise zones, etc. are all funded in different ways. To all the brilliant, creative lawyers out there: What would it take to create a new taxation entity (or zone) for the specific purpose of creating and funding a “regional” fire-fighting/EMS service? “Regional” because HFD provides services to City of Houston residents who are also Harris County or Fort Bend County residents. If we could find a way to remove HFD from the City of Houston budget (roll HFD into it’s own taxation entity), that would allow us to (1) avoid the local government revenue cap issue, (2) fund a regional Fire-fighting/EMS service, and (3) give the City of Houston some financial flexibility – without the HFD expenses, the City of Houston would have more funding available for neglected infrastructure projects (e.g. road repairs, flood prevention/drainage, water/sewer repairs, etc.).

    I suspect this idea would require new state law. If so, perhaps Mayor Whitmire could use his experience and connections in the legislature to get bipartisan support for the idea. Other local governments across Texas might also see the benefit in creating regional public safety entities (e.g. fire-fighting, EMS, law enforcement) instead of everyone operating and funding their own.

  4. Pingback: That “Prop A committee” | Off the Kuff

  5. Meme says:

    Greg, my 2 cents, privatize EMS, that problem solved.

  6. Pingback: Parking meter extension proposal sent to Prop A committee | Off the Kuff

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