Continuing downtown metered parking, despite being extremely unpopular with the public, appears to be supported by the Downtown Development Authority (DDA). But the cost-benefit to the city is unclear, an ongoing investigation by East Village Magazine suggests.
Details about revenue from downtown parking meters specifically have been elusive, as actual figures have not been forthcoming. Some answers emerged at an Oct. 25 Downtown Development Authority (DDA) board meeting, and EVM connected via email with a source to press for answers first posed in an earlier story about the downtown parking situation.
QUESTION: How many tickets are issued per month by the DDA generated through Auto Park?
According to the DDA, the Auto Park system generates an average of 4,212 tickets a month. COVID lowered that average in 2020 and 2021, and 2023 figures are affected by the restoration of the bricks on Saginaw Street.
QUESTION: How much revenue is generated by the meters and by fines, respectively?
According to DDA Board Member Damion Frasier, the budget for 2022-2023 projected $13,500 per month in monies collected by metered parking. Enforcement of parking tickets, however, is expected to generate $46,000 per month. Frasier explained the hourly fee is $1 with non-payment fines charging $25.
QUESTION: How many fines are disputed?
The DDA records indicate 960 fines are disputed per month — roughly 22% of violations issued. Frasier reviews and processes all disputes and, “from that work I have knowledge that we approved 70% or greater of the disputes.”
“The vast majority of disputed tickets were first time offenders and the DDA has had a policy of giving a break to first time offenders who dispute tickets, where we explained how to avoid tickets by using the app,” Frasier told EVM. The parking app referred to is Sentry Mobile. It allows drivers to add money to an account, pay a meter or lot fee, track a parking session as well as other functions.
QUESTION: What happens to holders of unpaid parking tickets?
Frasier said due to a 2023 Michigan law, parking violations are no longer used to deny renewal of a license. “The DDA has not acted on the outstanding tickets as of this email.”
According to Frasier there is no monthly fee paid to Municipal Parking System (MPS) who installed the system in 2019 at their expense. Under the Management Service Agreement, all monthly operating costs are covered by monies generated by parking fees and enforcement revenue. What money remains is then divided between the DDA and MPS. Frasier did not provide any figures.
QUESTION: When the construction on Saginaw Street is completed, will the current meters be installed?
The current agreement with MPS is set to expire in 2024. It could be renewed, or the DDA is looking at three alternate parking systems that might replace it.
One requires handwritten tickets, accepts coins, bills, tap pay and mobile app pay as well as credit cards. It also is based on license plates rather than a specific numbered spot or zone and allows a car to move to another space, paying only one time. It includes a mobile app to permit adding time and other functions. This system would require installation of 13 meters at a cost of $150,000 which includes enforcement equipment.
A second system is based on zones. It is more expensive to install as the meters would cost $250,000. It necessitates enforcement officers to place tickets on vehicles which would mean hiring a company to provide this service. Payment may be made with coins, cards and tap pay.
A third system is an app based one that does not have meters and is being considered as an interim service between MPS and a possible replacement.
As of this reporting, no decision has been made.
EVM reporter Elizabeth Ireland-Curtis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.