Spokane parking meter rates will increase by as much as 25 percent next week when downtown parkers will also have to pay for two additional hours each day. Instead of feeding meters between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., motorists will have to start paying at 8 a.m. and continue until 7 p.m.
Changes take effect Tuesday after a parking meter holiday on Monday, for Veterans Day.
“That’s ridiculous,” Chris Hagberg, a downtown business owner, said of the rate increase. “We try to take the bus as much as possible because parking is so outrageous.”
But when the Newman Lake woman and her husband need to buy food for their deli, they drive, she said.
The increase in rates and collection hours will bring in an estimated $500,000 in additional revenue per year. That’s on top of about $1.8 million collected each year already, said Engineering Services spokeswoman Ann Deasy-Nolan.
Part of the $500,000 in added revenue will go toward funding downtown improvements as part of the city’s “Downtown Plan.” Another portion will be used for street improvements, and eventually some of the extra revenue will go toward paying off bond debt on the River Park Square parking garage settlement.
“If it (the money) goes to street improvements, that’s good,” said Spokane resident Steve Darke. But he was unhappy to hear some of the revenue would be going to the parking garage settlement.
“We won’t need the money for the River Park Square bonds until 2013,” said city spokeswoman Marlene Feist. “Right now it can go to improve services.”
Dave Cooke, 49, who lives downtown, thought the rate increase was too much and perhaps redundant.
“Why should we pay more for the streets we are already paying for,” Cooke said. “No wonder people go to the NorthTown Mall, where the parking is free.”
The new meter rates and hours will be phased in over a period of weeks as workers reconfigure the city’s 2,800 meters and post the new collection times. As long as drivers follow the directions posted on the meter, they can avoid a ticket.
Even those who slip up will likely not be penalized during the transition phase, Deasy-Nolan said.
“Initially they will get courtesy tickets,” she said. Those warning tickets will note the rate and hour changes.