Public outreach continues for new downtown parking pay stations

Beginning today, City of Tacoma officials will provide a temporary pay station at the Broadway Farmers Market for visitors to learn more about a plan to install 150 electronic parking meters throughout downtown.

According to Public Works staffer Dana Brown, City representatives will be on-hand each Thursday during the Farmers Market season to “pass out instructions cards, show how to buy time, how to get a receipt, what to do with the receipt in terms of displaying it on their vehicle, direct people to the Web site, and talk about why Tacoma’s gotten back into on-street parking business.”

Brown spoke yesterday during Tacoma City Council’s environment and public works committee meeting. He added that the city has hired a consultant to roll out a marketing plan to inform the public of the new parking system.

Last year, City Council authorized the implementation of a paid on-street parking program. The goal was to reduce the number of spots being used by “chain-parking” downtown employees and free those spaces up for customers who visit retailers and businesses on a short-term basis, thereby increasing the turnover of available parking.

A 12-member parking advisory task force was created to come up with a plan for collecting feedback from downtown stakeholders, communicating those comments back to City Hall, and rolling out the plan. A series of public meetings have been held over the past 12 months. The parking advisory task force includes Steph Farber, LeRoy Jewelers; Chelsea Levy, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce; Rollie Herman, Westpac Marine; Cliff Barnes, Vinum Coffee & Wine Lounge; Judee Encinas, DaVita; Gabriel Garcia, Broadway Center of the Performing Arts; Tilinda Grote, neighborhood resident; Judi Hyman, Two Koi; Blaine Johnson, Theater District Association; Natalie McNair-Huff, True Blue; Thomas O’Connor, O’Connor & Associates; and Jan Rutledge, University of Washington Tacoma.

On May 18, City Council approved a purchase resolution that authorized the execution of a $4.185 million agreement between the City and Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), Inc. to begin the process of installing the pay stations. The contract will be paid through limited tax general obligation bonds and the city’s pay station fund.

City officials say the pay stations will “improve the turnover of downtown on-street spaces making it easier for customers and visitors to conveniently find on-street parking to shop, dine and participate in other activities. Electronic pay stations will be installed in an area that stretches from South Seventh Street, Market Street, South 21st Street, and Dock Street. The first pay stations will be up-and-running in August near the University of Washington Tacoma. Remaining pay stations will be installed thereafter.

During the meeting yesterday, Brown said staff are working on a request to change an ordinance in order to modify the existing parking fund revenue account to accommodate pay stations and parking tickets in one enterprise fund location. Another ordinance change request is related to fines and enforcement. “[Under the existing ordinance], we could not write a citation for no-pay or an expired ticket issued out of machine,” said Brown.

He also added that visitors downtown might notice portions of sidewalks have been spray-painted with white triangles to mark the locations where parking meters will be installed.

The next public meeting of the parking advisory committee will be held to discuss the issue will be held on Thurs., July 1 at 5 p.m. in the Tacoma Room on the University of Washington Tacoma campus.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Earlier Index coverage inaccurately reported 1,500 pay stations would be installed. We regret the error.