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On the Parking Benefit District

A proposed ordinance to create a parking benefit district in the Washington Avenue corridor was on Council’s agenda this week, but it was tagged and will wait a week while everyone gets up to speed on it.

CM Ellen Cohen

District C Council member Ellen Cohen says the city has been working with business owners to come up with a plan to test having parking meters,not only better regulate the constant influx of traffic, but:

“To deal with the issues of parking, increased crime, of safety, and neighbors live several streets off, and they walk in the evenings to restaurants and other services there. It’s a great place, but we want to make sure that it works, and so we’re gonna give it an 18 month trial and see how it goes.”

Mayor Annise Parker says contrary to some belief, they’re not creating an entertainment district.

“We’re trying to create a tool, so we can better manage the intersection between the businesses and the neighborhoods, and the public that needs to travel these major thoroughfares. I do hope that taking some of the lessons learned from creation of this parking benefit district will have 18 months to prove itself. We are not trying to create a one-size-fits-all model of this is what a parking benefit district looks like.”

Jane West is president of the Washington Avenue Coalition. She says money generated from parking meters will go to things like more sidewalks, better lighting and overall improved safety.

“This is a rare example of where members of our residential community, our business community and our development community have come together in a consensus opinion, for a proposal before city council. We’re disappointed that is wasn’t vote on this week, but we anticipate a favorable vote next week.”

See here for some background. I think this is an idea that makes a lot of sense. It’s based on the simple principle that parking is a valuable commodity, and it seeks to leverage that commodity and invest the revenue it generates back into the district. If you’ve ever tried to walk along Washington Avenue, you know how badly the infrastructure there needs work. Anyway, courtesy of CM Cohen’s office, here are some documents to help familiarize yourself with this proposal:

The PBD FAQ and flyer, plus the full presentation put together by the city. Be sure to at least read this document.

The left and right halves of the map of the area in question.

We’ll see what Council does with this, but I fully expect it to pass. What do you think about the idea?

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  1. Barry says:

    Washington Avenue, as an entertainment district, is dying or limping along, anyway. If you look at the TABC data for alcohol sales in the area, it will confirm the large drop in sales in bars and restaurants in the area. Most people that are coming to the area now will be turned off by a charge for parking, especially when options in other areas of the city, Montrose, Midtown, and the Heights, still have free parking options, and better charged options (paid lots and garages in Midtown and the Heights).

    My hope is that requiring a payment for parking at night won’t kill the district. I know on my last visit to Austin, requiring me to pay every couple of hours for nighttime parking in Austin was less than an enjoyable experience.

    If it doesn’t kill the few remaining options in the area, then it will be good for the infrastructure, as the area is horrible for pedestrians – its unsafe, unsightly, and hard to traverse by foot. If they fixed that, I think the availability of parking would be an issue that could be more easily addressed, with a more central parking solution.

  2. Ernesto says:

    I agree with Barry, the area of bars & restaurants is slowly dying. I commute to work through this area almost daily and have noticed more of the older bars eg Table 7 that have gone under. I’ve also noticed less people standing outside the bars that are still there.
    Bringing parking meters, although a good idea will be a turnoff for many people and maybe the death knell for the area. Isn’t this how the Richmond area died?
    Lets see how it pans out.

  3. joshua bullard says:

    damn it i already covered this for charles kuffner last go-its taking revenue from people city wide and containing it in jane cahill west control-the nerve of this lady and ellen cohen has gone straight canadian on this -people, this is not canada,you dont take from the rate payer twice- if a large chunk off the money went back into the general city fund i may be a player-but to allow jane canadian west and her friend ellen cohen to keep the cash is awful, i am surprised the mayor put this on the agenda-they might have even convinced cm c o brad bradford on board,i pray for a miracle they vote it down,

    what next?ill end up having to pay the washington corridor a fee to cook a grill chesse sandwich in my underwear at 2 am in the privacy of my own home…

    some of you council members are lost in another world..

    joshua ben bullard