City weighs increase of parking fees

Council hears comment on plan that could double some garage prices

Walking, carpooling encouraged

268-space facility set to open downtown in fall

Annapolis

April 27, 2004|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

Annapolis city council members heard public comment last night about proposed fee increases in city-owned garages that could more than double the cost of some parking there.

Motorists pay $8 a night if they leave their car at the Hillman garage off Main Street. If the council approves the fees, the cost would jump to $20.

The increased fees are meant to encourage drivers to park at lots away from downtown and take the bus, walk or carpool, city officials said.

Annapolis has an estimated 2,500 parking spots, but spaces are scarce in the historic district around Main Street and City Dock, home to most of the city's restaurants, bars and tourist attractions.

Two city-owned parking garages are near downtown, the 532-space Gotts facility at Calvert and Northwest streets and the 435-space Hillman near Main Street. The 268-space Knighton garage, at West Street and Colonial Avenue, is scheduled to open in the fall.

While downtown parking spots are hard to find, more space is available at the edges of the city. Higher fees could force motorists to take advantage of lots like the one near Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, where drivers can park and take a free bus shuttle downtown, city officials said.

The Hillman garage would have the steepest increases because it is the closest to Main Street. If the fees are approved, drivers would no longer get one free hour or the $2 flat rate for parking between 4 p.m. and 6 a.m. The overnight rate is for cars arriving before 4 p.m.

The hourly rate would also increase.

Under the proposed fees, drivers would still get one free hour at Gotts, which is several blocks from Main Street, but hourly rates would increase and they would pay $15 instead of $8 if they leave their car overnight. The $80 monthly pass would also increase, by $15 to $35 depending on the number of days covered by the permit.

Drivers would also pay $2 for their first hour at Knighton garage and $10 overnight. Monthly passes would cost $80 to $110.

City officials said they do not believe that the increased fees would lead to a significant increase in revenue because more people would buy monthly parking passes and less would park overnight or for long periods.

Mayor Ellen O. Moyer tried to address parking shortages late last year by proposing a food and drink tax that would have paid for valet parking services, more buses and expanded water taxi programs. The plan failed to get the necessary state approval.

Some residents said they were against the proposed fee increases because it would penalize people who work downtown and could lead to more crowding on residential streets near downtown.

"This proposal would have an opposite effect than what was intended," said Jim Stebel, who lives on Fleet Street just off Main Street. "People will find other parking on streets."

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