Blog Archives

Downtown Phoenix Parking Study Survey and Symposium

The City of Phoenix is currently conducting a study to implement new parking meter technology in the downtown area.

 

 

 

 

Questionnaire

The City of Phoenix is currently evaluating new technologies for its own downtown street meter system. They are interested in your opinion of existing conditions, as well as various parking meter features. Please take the 8 question survey at this link:

Parking Meter Survey

Stakeholder Symposium

The stakeholder symposium is an opportunity for Downtown Phoenix business owners, residents, and employees to see some of the new technology types and provide feedback on the type of features and options that would be most beneficial to their daily interaction with the downtown.

This evenis drop-in. Feel free to come by anytime, talk to members of the project team, and provide us feedback for the future of your community. Refreshments will be provided.

Details:

WHEN:
Wednesday, April 13, 2011 1:00pm – 7:00pm

WHERE:
Downtown Phoenix Ambassadors Office, 101 N. 1st Avenue | Suite 190 | Phoenix, AZ 85004

MORE INFO:
Brett Wood, P.E.
Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc.
602.906.1144
brett.wood@kimley-horn.com

Flyer (pdf)

Idea of The Day: Decentralised Bicycle Parking

[Source: Joe Peach, This Big City]

Cities across the world are starting to pay more attention to the role of the bicycle in creating sustainable urban environments. Encouraging cycling can reduce the strain on public transport provisions, minimise congestion and pollution, and improve the health of those on two wheels. However, if more people choose to cycle, new challenges will emerge in how we run our cities. If your commute to work is more than gentle exercise and the building you work in has no showers, personal hygiene throughout the day can be a problem. And if the city you live in doesn’t provide adequate parking facilities for cyclists, finding a secure location to store your bike for 8 hours can also be a challenge.

Whilst both these issues are simple to overcome, they are enough to deter some from adopting the bicycle as their main form of transport. With this in mind, Australian bicycle parking company Penny Farthings have created the Green Pod—a high quality facility for cyclists containing secure space to leave your bicycle, a changing room, lockers and a shower. Units can be customised depending on the needs of the area or venue they serve.

Penny Farthing’s Mark Rossiter says:

We see parking to be one of the major obstacles between cycling becoming a major transport mode. Recently some governments have started investing in large scale centralised cycle centers with capacity for 200+ cyclists. We believe small scale decentralised parking is better because is makes the facilites closer to users and improves point to point journey times (and they don’t build one car park in a centralized location- because it is inconvenient). With better infrastructure, such as the green pod, we hope to make cycling as a transport mode easy.

The Green Pod has also been created with environmental sustainability in mind, being powered by solar panels on the roof, containing LED lighting activated by motion sensors, grey water treatment units, and timed showers. It operates a self-cleaning system, meaning maintenance costs are reduced.

 

 

Downtown Phoenix’s parking meter program to be reviewed

[Source: Lynh Bui, The Arizona Republic]

City wants to generate maximum income

The 2,600 parking meters in Phoenix generate about $2.1 million annually for the city each year.

To make sure the meters are in the right place and to see if they are generating the maximum income for Phoenix, the city will conduct a study of the parking meter program starting next year, said Thomas Godbee, deputy street transportation director.

The city is looking to hire a consultant to review the meters in downtown Phoenix, near the state Capitol and other areas to study three main issues:

  • Location: Certain places, such as around the state Capitol, already have free parking available, so the parking meters that are in low demand could be removed, Godbee said. Meters could also be added to areas where traffic is higher.
  • Hours: In early 2009, the city extended the hours that parking meters would be in effect from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

“We’ve gotten a couple of complaints so we want to see how it’s working in a couple of areas,” Godbee said.

  • Payment: The city will examine whether the types of meters should be changed. Options could include replacing meters with pay stations or models that accept debit and credit cards to generate more revenue for the city and make it more convenient for drivers.

“If someone puts a quarter in a meter and parks two hours, they might not get a ticket, but we’re not getting the turnover in the parking space,” Godbee said.

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City wins permit to pave over Ramada Inn in downtown Phoenix

[Source: Emily Gersema, in azcentral.com’s Phx Beat]

Photo credit: azcentral.com

Some Phoenix residents believe city officials just won approval to pave paradise and put up a parking lot.

City officials last week at a hearing with a zoning officer won a permit to turn the Second and Taylor streets site of the old Ramada Inn into a parking lot.

Business leaders and residents with the Downtown Voices Coalition want to save the pink-stuccoed property that they believe has historic value. Last week, about a half-dozen coalition members argued unsuccessfully for rejection of the temporary use permit application.

Marilyn Monroe stayed in the hotel, once known as the Sahara Motor Inn, during the filming of “Bus Stop,” which was shown in theaters in 1956.

Opponents can appeal the zoning officer’s decision to the seven-member Board of Adjustment.

However, city officials have said the plans for the old inn are a done deal.

Phoenix officials intend to turn the site over to Arizona State University for a law college building as soon as the university has the funding it needs for construction.

That could take a few years; ASU is waiting for the state to recover from its budget crisis – or a very generous donor.

The five-year permit gives ASU some time to drum up funding. The parking lot would be used for overflow parking by the nearby, city-owned Sheraton Inn at Third and Van Buren streets.

*     *     *

You can read the DVC’s position on this demolition and parking lot here and here.

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Downtown Voices statement on proposed demolition of Sahara/Ramada Hotel for parking lot

To the Mayor, City Council, ASU Officials, City Staff, ASU Staff, and the Citizens of Phoenix:

It seems for every success that Phoenix can point to as ASU’s benefit to the downtown’s vitality, there also seem glaring and obvious deficiencies.  The decision to purchase and raze an existing historic structure, the Sahara/Ramada Hotel, and replace it with an overflow parking lot for a city-owned hotel, seems an obvious contradiction.

  • Though ASU and Phoenix both promote sustainable development, there is nothing in this direction that is sustainable, Earth-friendly, or revitalizing.
  • Phoenix already has land-banked large swaths of empty lots.
  • The campus was originally proposed to decentralize through downtown, rather than an aggregate of clustered buildings, in an effort to promote activity throughout the downtown.
  • For ASU to promote sustainability and the City to promote adaptive reuse, it seems disingenuous to then take down a historic and easily repaired structure and replace it with an asphalt lot.
  • Likewise, for Phoenix to promote light rail to discourage more cars on the road and the need for lots to park them, while investing in yet another parking lot to serve a city-owned and developed hotel, seems equally two-faced.

There are great opportunities to save, restore, and adapt the original Sahara/Ramada Hotel, with uses that fit well with the city-promoted need for hotel rooms and ASU’s existing colleges.  Within a one-hour Downtown Voices Coalition Steering Committee meeting on Saturday, March 13, ideas were discussed that would create revenue streams.  A true boutique hotel along the lines of The Clarendon, various care and health facilities (assisted living, long-term care, hospice, or transitional living), and even working art studios to bring fine art students to downtown are all more creative directions and tax revenue than another off-the-tax-rolls empty lot.

The Downtown Voices Coalition Steering Committee urges the City of Phoenix and ASU Downtown to abandon its harmful decision to demolish the Sahara/Ramada, and instead discuss more creative and forward-thinking goals for this property.  We look forward to a dialogue and request a planning session.  We also trust no decision will be made without further input.

Thank you.

Steve Weiss
Steering Committee Chair, Downtown Voices Coalition

Steeper parking fines irk downtown Phoenix drivers

[Source: Jason Barry, KPHO.com] — The City of Phoenix has increased the price of its parking fines.  Last year, the city increased the cost of its parking meters from 60 cents an hour to $1.50.  Now, the cost of a parking ticket has nearly doubled.  “I thought it was high to start with,” said Phoenix driver Phil Himel.  “Doubling it seems unfair to the common person that comes down here.”

“I don’t think the punishment fits the crime in this situation,” said Tess Konomos of Flagstaff.  A typical parking ticket in downtown Phoenix used to be $31.  Now it’s $57.  The price for paying that ticket early used to be $16.  Currently it’s $37.

Mark Garcia said he had no idea the tickets were so expensive until he looked at the one on his windshield Wednesday.  The Phoenix man claims he was stuck in court for a traffic ticket and couldn’t come down to feed the meter.  “Especially with layoffs and everything, this is not the time to be raising prices,” Garcia said.  “Especially, with the economy down like this.”

City officials said the decision to raise the parking fines will generate an additonal $600,000, money the city needs to help reduce its budget deficit.  Garcia said it’s just another way to take advantage of folks who drive downtown.  “It’s way too much,” said Garcia. “It’s crazy”  [Note: View the KPHO video segment here.]

City agrees to buy/raze downtown Phoenix Ramada Inn for ASU expansion

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — The same week that Phoenix leaders imposed a 2 percent food tax to prevent layoffs and painful cuts to city services, City Council members agreed to spend $6 million to buy a vacant motel so Arizona State University can expand its downtown campus.  The city plans to buy the old Ramada Inn at 401 N. First Street with $5 million left over from a 2006 city bond that was enacted largely to help construct ASU’s downtown Phoenix campus, plus roughly $1.3 million from the city-owned Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel’s capital improvement fund.

The city and the motel property’s owner, Phoenix-based City Centre LLC, have not finalized the sale but hope to before it is due to be sold at a foreclosure auction on March 2.  The city has been eying the property for years but was put off by the price, which was once as high as $30 million.  Now, it wants to buy the property before it goes to auction, where it may lose it to another buyer.  Records show City Centre owes its lender $5.2 million.  Until ASU officials decide what to do with the site, Phoenix plans to raze the motel and build an overflow parking lot with up to 250 spaces for the Sheraton.

The Phoenix City Council unanimously approved the deal Feb 3. The city-controlled hotel board approved the transaction on Friday.  “I felt this was a good purchase for the city at this time,” said Councilman Bill Gates.  “The city could acquire property important to downtown and important to the ASU campus.”  But a taxpayer advocacy group said the city should at the very least use the extra money to pay off debt already incurred for the campus.   Kevin McCarthy, president of the Arizona Tax Research Association, said the hotel purchase also highlights government tactics to spend money on projects not specifically approved by voters.

Buying the Ramada Inn was not specified in the spending plan detailed on the city’s Web site and to the media in the days leading up to the bond vote, city officials acknowledge.  But it was part of early plans for the campus, city officials said.  The vote gave the city permission to borrow $220 million to build various ASU facilities.  The city sells bonds to raise money, which it pays off with property taxes. But the taxpayer group concedes the city’s deal still is legal because the property fits within ballot language for long-term plans for the campus.  [Note: Read the full article at City agrees to buy/raze downtown Phoenix Ramada Inn for ASU expansion.]

Downtown Phoenix parking costs soar, but can light rail compete?

[Source: Sean Holstege, Arizona Republic] — The price of parking in downtown Phoenix grew faster than in any major U.S. city, according to a recent industry report.  The median cost of an unreserved monthly parking space was $65, up from $35 two years ago, reports real estate consulting firm Colliers International.  Phoenix rates are still low, on par with Fresno, California and Columbia, South Carolina.

Charles Miscio, senior vice president of Colliers in Phoenix, tells the Business Journal that the Metro light rail and newly expanded Phoenix Convention Center have helped drive up parking rates – 24 percent in monthly rates and 12 percent in daily rates.  He says the trend will continue.  “With the light rail’s capability of moving more people in and out of downtown, we are beginning to see entertainment venues and businesses shift from the Camelback Corridor and other metro areas to downtown Phoenix to take advantage of light rail traffic,” Miscio said.  “This shift is also driving more auto traffic into downtown, increasing parking garage usage and rates during both the daytime and evening.”

Three years ago I wrote a piece explaining how low parking rates can undermine light rail.  Metro is trying to attract riders who chose to take the train over driving their personal car.  By the economic laws of supply and demand, cheap and plentiful parking those riders can get to work cheaper in their cars.  Metro can’t compete.

A downtown office worker who drives a car that gets 20 mpg now pays $70 a month to commute one mile, not counting upkeep or insurance.  That’s significantly more than Metro’s Platinum Pass at $55 a month.  Had Metro been in service two years ago, that same commuter would have paid $40 a month to drive – less than the $45 cost of a monthly pass.

Now the tables seem turned, with rail being the cheaper, but necessarily more convenient option.  It’s a little more complicated because many downtown employers offer deep discounts on parking and transit.  And cost isn’t the only factor in deciding how to commute.  But it will be interesting to see how the competition plays out.  Will parking garages charge less to capture some of the rail riders or will more people turn to the trains?  [Note: Read the full blog entry at Downtown Phoenix parking costs soar, but can light rail compete?]

Downtown Phoenix parking rates skyrocket

BossTweedTheBrains[Source: Adam Kress, Phoenix Business Journal] — While they remain among the lowest in the nation, monthly parking rates in Phoenix grew faster this year than in any other major metro area in the country.  A new annual report on parking rates from Colliers International says the median unreserved monthly parking rate in Phoenix is $65.  That’s up 24 percent from last year’s survey, while the national average declined 1 percent.  Two years ago, the average in Phoenix was just $35 a month.

Despite the big jump in Phoenix, the city has the eighth-lowest median unreserved monthly parking rate in the country — on par with Las Vegas; Columbia, S.C.; and Fresno, Calif.  The national average is much higher: nearly $154 a month.  Daily parking rates also rose sharply in Phoenix during the past year, rising more than 12 percent to a median daily price of $9.  That puts the city in a tie for the sixth least expensive parking rate in the country, the Colliers study said.  The national average for daily parking is $16, a rise of 1.15 percent from 2008.

Charles Miscio, senior vice president of Colliers in Phoenix, said the Metro light rail and newly expanded Phoenix Convention Center have helped drive up parking rates.  “With the light rail’s capability of moving more people in and out of downtown, we are beginning to see entertainment venues and businesses shift from the Camelback Corridor and other metro areas to downtown Phoenix to take advantage of light rail traffic,” Miscio said.  “This shift is also driving more auto traffic into downtown, increasing parking garage usage and rates during both the daytime and evening.”  [Note: Read full article at Downtown Phoenix parking rates skyrocket]

Parking meter fees go up in downtown Phoenix

In this Cronkite News Service report, parking meters in downtown Phoenix will be expanding their hours and their prices.