Downtown merchants want parking plan revoked

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About 80 downtown business owners and employees have signed a petition urging Republican Mayor Greg Ballard’s administration to nix major plans to revamp metered parking in Indianapolis.

Zach Adamson, who owns the salon Just Hair near Ohio and Pennsylvania streets, circulated the petition among establishments mainly on the east side of downtown. Adamson plans to run for City-County Council in 2011 as a Democrat.

He and other signatories are concerned about the city’s 50-year lease of the meters, which would double hourly rates from 75 cents to $1.50 by 2012 at meters in Broad Ripple and busy downtown areas.

It also would add Saturday hours and extend hours into the evening in those areas. 

The city’s share of the revenue from the lease—expected to be more than $400 million—would go toward improving roads and sidewalks in the areas near the meters and possibly adding a parking garage in Broad Ripple. Affiliated Computer Services Inc., the Dallas-based company leasing the meters, also would put in high-tech meters that accept credit cards.

Among the roughly 135 people who signed the petition are local Democratic Party officials and candidates, but several others are employees and owners of businesses such as salons, gift shops, printing shops and food vendors at Indianapolis City Market.

Many say they worry that the higher rates and longer hours—until 11 p.m. in Broad Ripple and 9 p.m. in bustling downtown areas—would deter people from parking in those parts of the city.

“Downtown is fragile still,” said Ross Whitfield, who owns an insurance agency on Massachusetts Avenue and signed the petition. “We don’t need that if we’re competing with other satellite cities. They don’t have a parking issue. Why do we want to create a parking issue?”

But city officials say they think the new setup will help businesses. They say higher rates will persuade more people to use the meters for short-term purposes, creating turnover and opening up spaces for patrons.

They also point out that meter rates haven’t been increased in decades, and the $1.50 hourly rate would put Indianapolis on par with other comparably sized cities.

“The tradeoff is this—if you want increased on-street turnover and the ability to use credit and debit cards at the meters, the city has got to find a way to pay for that somehow,” said Michael Huber, the city’s deputy mayor for economic development. “The technology is old, and we’ve had the same rates for 35 years.”

Huber and representatives from downtown booster group Indianapolis Downtown Inc. have been in contact for several months with groups such as the Massachusetts Avenue Merchants Association and the Greater Indianapolis Hotel & Lodging Association. Fred Laughlin, vice president of management services for IDI, said members have been accepting of the changes.

David Andrichik, owner of the Chatterbox Tavern, said he’s supportive of the proposal because he sees a need for turnover outside of his Mass Ave establishment, where some cars occupy spaces all weekend because they don’t have to pay.

“The biggest concern is those who aren’t our customers occupying the spaces when they shouldn’t be occupying the spaces,” Andrichik said.

Andrichik also would welcome the additional money for road and sidewalk improvements, from which he and other Mass Ave merchants will benefit.

Adamson said he’d like to see those things, as well, but not to the detriment of his business.

“This is absolutely the worst time to raise the rates, in the middle of a recession,” Adamson said. “We’re counting every customer who comes in. Adding more [expense] is going to be a message to people to not come downtown.”

The City-County Council will determine whether to approve the parking proposal. A council committee hearing on the issue scheduled for Monday has been postponed, Huber said, to thoroughly vet public questions.

Council leaders say they’ve haven’t rescheduled the hearing, but it will be after the next full council meeting on Sept. 20.


  • Affiliated Computer Services Deceptive
    ENFORCEMENT PROCEEDINGS - SEC Charges Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. With Stock Options Backdating and False Disclosures:
    "The SEC's complaint, filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C., alleges that from 1995 to 2006, ACS engaged in a fraudulent and deceptive scheme to provide executives and other employees with undisclosed compensation."
    Above is a part of a recent into ACS.

    Seriously folks let's get real.
    Public officials are supposed to be trustees of the commonweal, not political
    buccaneers seeking their own private gain. But sometimes, in what economists call a
    principal-agent problem, those trustees forsake that obligation and misuse the power
    delegated to them in ways that advance their personal interests rather than those of the
    Corruption distorts the allocation of resources toward projects that
    can generate illicit payoffs. Besides the undesirable efficiency consequences arising
    from this distortion, the effect is likely to aggravate social inequalities, because the poor and powerless suffer, by definition, a comparative disadvantage in securing special favors.
    If the $500,000 has to be paid if the City-County Council will not vote for the ACS deal. Pay ACS's political blackmail scheme and get them out of town. Like all the other commentaries together with articles I've been reading have showed, ACS is not the kind of corporation we want in our town. Political blackmail, special interests, conflict of interests, WHERES THE FBI? WHERES THE FEDS?
    Has anyone ever read ACS Ethical Standards they try to impose on their employees at the welfare office. Their employees aren't allowed to accept even a Christmas card. Yet the CEO's and Directors of this company have done just that.
    ACS is a shameful, unethical, disgraceful hypocrite, not to mention the so called "leaders" of Indianapolis for creating this mess.
    What an embarrassment to our city.
  • There is NO Such Thing As Free Parking
    First, I don't know anyone who works downtown who parks all day at a parking meter. Are you really trying to claim you know people who spend their whole work day running out feeding the meters? The vast majority of people who park downtown either have employer-provided parking, or park in paid private or public lots, all of which are unaffected by this parking plan.

    Second, it is complete baloney for you to claim that there is free parking--anywhere. There is no such thing as free parking. When a private business provides "free parking," you pay for it through the prices the business charges you for their goods and services because the parking costs the business money to provide. Similarly, when the city provides street parking, it costs money for the city to provide the parking spot through the cost of parking enforcement and street maintenance. So, either everyone can subsidize the cost through higher taxes, or the process can be transparent and individuals can pay, if not the full cost, at least an amount closer to the true cost of providing the so-called "free parking."

    Third, if someone is truly going to be dissuaded from going somewhere for two hours (e.g. for shopping or dinner) because instead of paying $1.50 for parking, they will have to pay $3 for parking, then their cheap butt should stay at home. Someone who is that price sensitive is not a high-value customer, and it doesn't make sense for the public to subsidize parking for them. If they won't spend $3 on parking, then they certainly aren't going to spend very much money on food, clothes, drinks, etc.

    Finally, the real issue in this debate is not whether parking rates should be raised--that is a given, YES, they should be doubled, or even tripled. But, what is a legitimate matter of debate is whether the privatization plan makes any sense. The city has the ability to raise the parking rates on its own, and then issue bonds backed by the parking revenue to pay for the cost of installing electronic meters and to cover infrastructure improvements downtown and in Broad Ripple (where the meters are located). So, it begs the question, why bring in a middle-man to skim off revenue? What extra-value would ACS provide that the city cannot simply get by keeping all the parking revenue for itself and using bonds backed by the revenue to pay for infrastructure improvements. Unlike ACS, the city has a very good bond rating, so it costs relatively little for it to borrow money. Also, unlike ACS, the city doesn't pay state or federal taxes, so the city avoids a huge operating expense that ACS would have to deal with. Meanwhile, ACS must charge a higher rate under the contract to cover its tax expense. Additionally, ACS really isn't bringing any value to the table-it's not claiming the contract will lower parking operations cost, in fact, the agreement assumes costs will go up. To date,the Ballard administration has not been able to explain what ACS can do that the city cannot do on its own, and do more cheaply.

  • Well...
    .... first of all, if the city can't figure out how to upgrade and manager the meter system on it own, then every single one of these idiots in office needs to be replaced. It doesn't take half the sense God gave a cow to realize that this "deal" they've worked out with some company based in ANOTHER state is absolutely abominable!!!

    Now, as it pertains to the article at hand, Andrichik is absolutely correct in his assessment that the fare increase would be a good thing for downtown merchants. I know first hand from years of living downtown in general and the Mass Ave area in particular that some people DO take complete advantage of the free parking on the weekends and treat those spaces as their own personal spots. And parking in the Mass Ave are is definitely NOT always so easy, especially when there is an event at the Murat or the , is a Athaneum. Adamson, I'm afraid, is a little naive in his thinking. Anyone who has traveled to similarly sized cities will tell you that parking in downtown Indy is a bargain and a breeze and even an increase of 100% will only just bring us in line with comparably sized cities.

  • Too Bad
    This will definitely affect retail in the areas that will have their parking meter rates upped and hours extended. This is just an excuse for Hoosiers to stay away, and they will.

  • Let's Agree To Disagree
    We completely disagree on many different levels.
  • Down with the garages?
    Nick et al, building public garages in places that don't need them (i.e., Broad Ripple, Mass Avenue, basically everywhere in Indy) is terrible public policy. By all means, improve roads and sidewalks, and god forbid, mass transit, but finding parking on Mass Ave is only difficult if your standard is Fishers or Greenwood. Go one block off of the Avenue or two blocks off of Broad Ripple Avenue on weekends and parking is abundant. Publicly funded garages when there is little need and a skewed demand due to public laziness is no better than converting Meridian Street to an expressway to help the people in Carmel.

    The idea that a 50-year lease with a company for charging rates that make the meters non-competitive in comparison to parking garages does seem ridiculous--a bonanza for the meter management company. Far better would be to expand the hours for the meters as is typical in most cities of Indy's size, and gradually increase meter prices as the market inflates the rates in the garages.
    • Let businesses invest
      Let the local businesses pay for the new meters on their streets. Then, the businesses split revenues with City for 20 years. Everyone wins, and we don't lose our revenue for 50 years.
    • Dems
      Rather than charging patrons who already use a service and already travel downtown anyway, the democrats would prefer we raise taxes for everyone because, face it, we need the money! Always the victim...
    • Didn't Indy learn from Chicago's mistakes?
      The City really is giving away the farm on this one. Great analysis here: http://www.urbanophile.com/2010/09/07/indys-son-of-chicago-parking-meter-lease-to-be-a-disaster-for-city/ and here: http://www.urbanophile.com/2010/09/12/indianapolis-parking-meters-the-citys-response/

      Basically--if someone else is making that much profit from our meters, with the city paying the upfront upgrade expenses, why doesn't the city just do the same thing?
    • 50 years?
      My issue is the 50 year business. Other posters have pointed out the upgrades and technology changes within the 50 years. I can foresee an Irsay/Simon deal about 10 years in the future where we HAVE to pay the vendor big bucks behind a closed door because:
      1. The contract didn't say anything about upgrades
      2. This is now a monopoly. You can't go to anyone else with your whining.
      3. You have 40 years to go in a solid contract so shut up and pay.

      Not good.
    • Don't sell us out (again)
      I agree with many of the others posted here - the credit card slide and some raise of rates is likely needed. The degree to which the vendor wins on this contract mirrors the Brizzi deals. Do we not have any contract reviewers capable of ascertaining the large screw throughout this one?
    • Not and either-or
      Maybe the city's parking meters do need to be re-assessed and updated. But the vendor chosen to do this work and the deal the city has struck with that vendor sound like bad news. Surely Indianapolis' options are not limited to "do nothing" or "commit to 50 years of a bad deal."
    • Dumb and dumber
      Indy has a national reputation as a well run city -- what happened? Just look at the fiasco created by privatizing Chicago's parking meters -- it's one of the reasons Daley isn't running for re-election as people are so ticked off. The city gets screwed, the citizens get taken but the deal-makers get their fees. Doesn't anyone ever learn? Stop with the parking turnover and convenience BS -- if you want to reform your parking practices, do it yourself, gradually and keeping the city in control.
    • Crazy idea
      Maybe meters that accept credit cards and slightly higher rates, and maybe even daytime Saturdays would all be okay. But, has His Honor Mayor Ballard considered that at $1.50/hour it will be cheaper to park in Circle Centre garages where you get three hours for the same price - in the daytime? Think about that, Mr. Mayor.
    • GOP form of TAXATION
      Ballard ran on the outrage of taxation. Vowing not to raise taxes and to recind the ones that had been implemented just prior to his freak election.

      Well the GOP taxes at a higher rate than Democrates ever did. They just sell off the assets to private businesses (out of state/country) and they raise the heck out of the fees kicking a little back to the city. This is what that man Mitch did with the toll road. Wow. have you seen how much it has gone up at a time when people's income has been drastically slashed?

      The notion of selling off and entering into special sweetheart deals with the private sector is just outrageous. GOP says everything should be ran by a business (believing they can do it cheaper). Well if businesses thought that there would not be huge profits, they would never seek these special sweetheart deals. Makes you wonder why the GOP wants the government to have less funds to support essential services? Makes not sense to any reasonable person.

      Call it whatever you want, it is just TAXATION without having any REPRESENTATION once the sweetheart deal goes through.
    • Upgrades Needed, but 50 Year Contract is Crazy!
      Have lived and worked in other large cities such as Los Angeles and Chicago, I know firsthand the cost of metered parking. In areas in Los Angeles near UCLA, the cost at a member is $2.00/hour.

      I would like to see the convenience of having meters that allow credit card purchases. However, I don't believe the city should be entering into a 50 year contract. Technology changes so quickly and a contract should not exist for that long. In addition, I would like to see a gradual implementation and to see a consistent time frame. There is no need for different hours at different locations in the city - make it the same.
    • Not "hundreds"
      The Broad Ripple parking deck had 120 parking spaces, not "hundreds". (It was smaller than the lot at the strip mall east of the Monon.)
    • Move forward
      The rates have not been raised within the lifespan of anyone under the age of 45. The city would be hard press to raise the money to replace the current meters. This makes more sense than continuing to raise debt that has to be paid back. The adminstration appears to have analyzed the weak points of similar deals in other cities.
    • Backseat again
      I love to go downtown nights and weekends BECAUSE parking is free! However, there are many people who work hourly jobs downtown and who are not supplemented by their employer to pay for parking. So the toll hike AND hours of operation increase will make them take a back seat or force them to find a job elsewhere! I can understand a toll hike...perhaps to $1 per hour, particularly to alleviate "long term parkers" but to take away parking options (which are already hard to come by with all the "VALET" parking) will really take a "TOLL" on consumers who are already struggling to make ends meet. How about do away with "VALET" parking if you raise parking rates and increase operational hours? Will the new meters create or take away jobs? People are unemployed or under employed... how will this help them? Many people have dealings downtown... How will people pay parking tolls if they have an interview OR have to file some unemployment paperwork with the Government Center or the city county building? Why are you making it more difficult for people to work and enjoy downtown? I would love to visit Chicago, but never have the money to pay for parking...Help the consumer during his time of need!
      • Such a Good Idea? Hum!!
        If it such a good idea to raise parking meter rates, why doesn't the Mayor just raise the rates and extend the hours for meters to gradually pay for new meters today.
        The city has enough good people to manage, maintain and monitor a project such as this to move Indy into the future where parking is concerned. My fear is that the "50 year" monies brought in to fix streets right now will not be there in 5 to 10 years to start updating infrastructure again. Let's do it gradually when the funds are there from increased rates and extended hours on meters.

        Hope your listening Mayor. I really like the job your doing, but you might want to give this a little more thought. There is nothing wrong with using the increased revenue to buy a lot of cashless meters at a time.
      • Compromise On Parking
        I can understand the need to have meters with card access and don't mind the increase in rates however extending the hours is unreasonable.
      • Have vs Have not
        It's a shame if this measure passes. This will only cause a bigger rift (intended?) between the haves and have nots in a city with a sparce public transportation infastructure. Those who can "afford" to come into the downtown area will continue to. It will become a question of price and necessity for all those who do not. Which will then drive people either further into their dilapidated lifestyles and communities with no excape, or further into the suburban areas.
      • Have vs Have not
        It's a shame if this measure passes. This will only cause a bigger rift (intended?) between the haves and have nots in a city with a sparce public transportation infastructure. Those who can "afford" to come into the downtown area will continue to. It will become a question of price and necessity for all those who do not. Which will then drive people either further into their dilapidated lifestyles and communities with no excape, or further into the suburban areas.
      • Radio Interview
        Urban Expert Rates Indyâ??s Parking Meter Deal Worst In Country!

      • Parking Meters:Son of Chicago Urbanophile Article
      • Meter alternatives BEFORE new deal!
        To the point of our perspective as merchants, we understand 2 things about the deal. The city needs money and the intended consequence is that meters have more turnover. The problem is, there is no alternative. If people cant park longer term at meters, what is the alternative. A meter that, even with the increase is $3 for 2 hours or a garage that is $15, $16 and even $17 for 4 hours.
        If every place where the meter zones are located had an alternative like they have at Circle Center Mall, that would drive people in droves into the garages. Alternatives need to be in place BEFORE the rate/hours increases go into effect. That is the only thing that will achieve both goals of the deal AND not negatively impact business in these zones.
        There is still a question of whether or not the city is getting the best deal it can from this. It seems to me that all the revenue generating that goes beyond what we collect currently is tied up in the new meter itself and not the management.
      • Lease is the issue
        I am ok with them extending hours and increasing rates...but the issue here is 50-year lease...or giving up future revenue stream for payment upfront. I am against it, and I hope it doesn't get passed.
      • Win Win Win
        New meters and parking garages can easily get funding by issuing muni bonds backed by future parking revenue. City retains control and 100% of the additional revenue generated by more public parking spaces, easier and cheaper payment processing with credit card meters, more revenue by better pricing and pay period business models, and a huge boost to the local retailers by increasing supply of parking and making parking downtown less of a hassle.
      • More Public Garages & New Meters
        They should build the long delayed parking garages in Broad Ripple and Mass Avenue to boost the local retailers business and increase tax revenue. They can build these structures because their is sufficient demand and it is good public policy. (especially since they removed hundreds of parking spaces on the former Broad Ripple lot that straddled the canal for structural reasons) The reason for the delay has been years of haggling of who should get the profits. It's time to move forward with public parking garages in each of these areas with private management. Dennison current contract should be bid out and let the best offer win.

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