PDA getting out of parking business

FRIDAY, DEC. 24, 2004

The Spokane Parking Public Development Authority is out of the parking business.

Some people would argue that it has been out of the parking business for years, because the River Park Square garage it was set up to oversee has been such a financial disaster that the agency never had any revenue to manage.

That may be true, but the PDA was officially the agency in control of the garage. On Thursday, it relinquished that titular control because of settlements in the federal lawsuit surrounding the garage.

It approved a resolution supporting the city of Spokane’s proposed settlement with the Cowles Publishing Co. development affiliates that own and operate the downtown mall. Part of that settlement calls for the city to turn over ownership of the garage to the mall developer in exchange for city control over its once-pledged parking meter funds and a letter of credit that guarantees the repayment of a loan that has been a drain on the city’s community development block grants.

The resolution terminates agreements with the city, a nonprofit foundation that owned the garage, the developer, and the PDA that date to August 1999, when the downtown mall renovation was nearing completion.

The resolution also formally turned down a proposed loan of the parking meter funds the council had offered in November. The PDA board’s attorney, Jim King, had said the loan offer had unacceptable conditions.

“The PDA is out of the loop,” said Hal Ellis, the board chairman. “This takes us out of the parking business.”

The board will likely vote itself out of existence in the coming months. Until that time, Ellis said, it will be “in the business of dissolving ourselves in an orderly fashion.”

The agency will likely go out of business owing money to various individuals and state agencies. King, its attorney, has served for several years without pay. It has a bill of about $14,000 from the state auditor, who last year tried to audit the agency’s books only to determine that the records were in such disarray that no audit could be done.

“We are a corporation without any viable revenue source,” said Ellis, noting the agency’s only income recently has been from fees connected to one of the garage’s unintended by-products, litigation.

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