Cost to park in Farms to go up July 1

Officials say this is the first increase in years for meters, Hill lot

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published June 18, 2014

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — The days of free parking for nighttime Hill visitors will soon be but a memory.

During a June 9 City Council meeting, the council voted unanimously in favor of raising parking rates for the municipal lot behind businesses on the Hill, as well as raising rates for parking at meters along Kercheval and Mack. In addition, the hours of parking enforcement are being extended. The vote came as part of the consent agenda, so the council didn’t discuss the changes, but the council’s Parking and Traffic, and Budget and Audit committees had both reviewed the proposal.

For the Hill municipal lot, enforcement is changing from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. to 8 a.m.-10 p.m. starting July 1, which coincides with the beginning of the new fiscal year. Metered parking on Kercheval and Mack, which had been enforced between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., will now be enforced from 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

Parking rates are essentially doubling, in most cases. For example, the Hill municipal lot rate will increase from a quarter for less than an hour to 50 cents for the same amount of time, and from 50 cents for between one and two hours to $1 for that amount of time.

As to metered parking on Mack and Kercheval, that’s going from 25 cents for 30 minutes to 50 cents for 30 minutes, and from 50 cents for an hour to $1 for an hour.

There will be one group of motorists who’ll benefit from the new rates. Long-term parking in the Hill lot will decrease slightly. The maximum amount now per day is $8, but under the new rate structure, it’ll be $6. And while parking had shot up to $4 once a user had been in the lot for three to four hours, the new rate for that amount of time will be $3, with the amount increasing by $1 increments for each additional hour after that to the maximum amount of $6 for anyone parked in the lot for six or more hours.

City Controller/Treasurer John Lamerato said the Farms hasn’t changed its short-term parking prices in more than 20 years and hasn’t amended long-term rates in more than 10 years. Revenue from parking has been declining in recent years, especially as the Hill has become less retail-focused and has become more of an evening destination, with the increase in the number of restaurants and other, similar establishments, he noted.

“We think (the rates) are still competitive (with neighboring cities),” City Manager Shane Reeside said. “The biggest change is that our demand for parking in the day has gone down in recent years.”

He said officials considered automating the municipal lot but decided to keep an attendant there instead.

“There are some advantages of having an attendant there: having a set of eyes and ears on the parking lot at all times,” Reeside said.

Mayor James Farquhar said city officials decided to change the parking payment structure because they need to raise enough money to pay for lot resurfacing and other expenses related to keeping the parking areas in good and usable shape.

“We just think it was time to be readdressed,” Farquhar said of the city’s parking rates.

Reeside said the increase in the number of restaurants on the Hill “has generated quite a bit of refuse,” and the new parking rates are expected to help offset some of those additional costs, as well. He said the municipal lot was recently repaved.

The new rates are expected to raise an additional $30,000 annually, Lamerato said. That should help the city to better keep up with the costs associated with providing parking for businesses.

“We do need to maintain the city’s infrastructure. … The intent is to improve parking for everyone,” Public Safety Director Daniel Jensen said.

And don’t think you won’t get a ticket if you neglect to feed the meter after hours.

“Whatever (parking regulations) the council passes, we will enforce them,” Jensen said, pointing out that besides the city’s daytime parking enforcement officer, road patrol officers are trained to monitor and enforce parking rules.