A Downtown Investment Authority committee advanced a proposed parking rate increase Jan. 12 for on-street metered parking in areas of the Northbank deemed high-demand.
If approved by the full DIA board, the policy change will establish a defined rate structure for both high-demand and low-demand areas of Downtown.
DIA CEO Lori Boyer said the rate changes are not intended to generate more revenue for the city but to discourage all-day use of on-street spaces to increase customer parking availability for restaurants and retailers.
“This is driven to ensure turnover in the spaces so the meters are truly available for the retail businesses and establishments, not being used by employees on a full-time basis in lieu of parking in a garage or an off-street location,” Boyer said.
The schedule increases hourly parking rates for most Downtown Northbank digital meters in high-demand areas from 50 cents per hour to $2 per hour beginning at the second hour, according to DIA documents presented Jan. 12.
The DIA recommends 30-minute on-street parking in those areas be set at $1. Parking for the first full hour would remain unchanged at 50 cents, according to the rate schedule.
The low-demand areas predominantly have aging mechanical meters that DIA Contract and Regulatory Compliance Manager John Crescimbeni told the committee cannot be reprogrammed with new rates.
Crescimbeni said the mechanical meters would need additional parts to change the higher rates.
The resolution would leave those rates unchanged.
The rates would be in effect from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The rate schedule also includes a provision to put in place night, weekend and holiday parking fees of $5 to $15 during special events like Jacksonville Jaguars football games.
The resolution would allow the DIA and Office of Public Parking to review and change the high-demand and low-demand area boundaries and could be applied to the Downtown Southbank.
If the full DIA board approves the rate changes at its Jan. 20 meeting, Boyer is required to notify City Council. She said the new rates would go into affect 30 days after that notice is delivered. Council could file legislation overriding the DIA.
The proposed rate increase is based on a 2019 DIA-commissioned parking rates and operations study by Tim Haas & Associates.
The study recommended the city eliminate on-street parking credit-card transactions below $1 and implement at least a $2 per hour rate.
Crescimbeni told the committee that DIA staff is developing a request for proposals for digital parking pay station kiosks and mobile pay applications for on-street meters.
Boyer told the board that she thinks it’s possible to execute an early 2023 target to install kiosks to replace the aging mechanical meters and the companion license plate reader technology for Downtown parking enforcement.
DIA staff established the three-year rollout for the parking system upgrades before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With a few exceptions, you probably will not see new meter installations. You will see us moving to new technology,” Boyer said.
Committee chair and DIA board member Oliver Barakat recommended a post-pandemic analysis of the rate structures.
Boyer said she intends to provide the committee quarterly updates after Downtown traffic levels return.
According to Boyer, the DIA also is considering changes to the meter bagging program to reduce the amount of time an on-street parking site is closed for a special event, city function or can be rented by a business or developer.
The committee also voted 3-0 on Jan. 12 to amend changes adopted by the DIA and Council in late 2020 for the city’s Downtown off-street parking garages and surface lots.
According to DIA documents, staff wanted to address the limited number of customers receiving reserved monthly parking at the Duval Street library garage — a rate that is not in the current parking rate structure.
The committee supported the DIA staff’s recommendation to put in place a $120 monthly reserved parking fee at the library garage.
Crescimbeni said a voucher system adopted by the board in September intended for city agency customers parking at the Ed Ball Building Garage had accounting and record-keeping challenges for city staff and the Office of Public Parking.
If given final approval, the voucher system at the Ed Ball garage would be replaced and short-term customers would only pay $1 for the first 30 minutes; $2 for the second 30 minutes; $3 for the third 30 minutes; and $4 for the fourth 30 minutes.
For vehicles parked for 4 hours or more, a $50 rate would be issued.