Parking Fees & Funding

parking signBelow are a variety of strategies aimed at fundamentally changing the way the city approaches parking. Essentially all parking in the city is currently free, encouraging the use of individual vehicles rather than public or alternative modes of transportation. By charging for parking in high-use areas, beginning with the Downtown area, the city hopes to encourage these alternatives to individual vehicles.

Strategies and Greenhouse Gas Reduction

  • Parking Fees Downtown: Discourage, through city parking policies and employer commute trip reduction policies, the provision of free parking to business employees who work in Downtown Tacoma and in other areas of concentrated employment and who drive to work alone.
  • Parking Fees Downtown: Discourage, through city parking policies and employer commute trip reduction policies, the provision of free parking to city employees who work in Downtown Tacoma and in other areas of concentrated employment and who drive to work alone.
  • Parking Enterprise Fund: Evaluate the creation of a parking enterprise fund with funding from on-street parking fees and taxes on parking garages. Designate the funds for development of alternative modes of transportation such as streetcars, pedestrians, or bicycles.

Other Strategies

  • Parking Surcharge: Implement a 15 percent parking surcharge in the Puget Sound region, increasing to 20 percent by 2009. Establish mechanisms to encourage the price to be passed on to parkers.
  • Cash-Out Program: Encourage employer parking cash-out programs - ensuring that 50 percent of employers who provide leased parking spaces to employees will offer parking cash-out by 2010.

GHG Reduction Estimates

  • Parking Fees Downtown: Not available. However, Palo Alto, CA estimates that such an action would result in a 22,000 ton CO2 decrease.[1] Because Tacoma is approximately twice as large as Palo Alto the impact may be larger.
  • Parking Enterprise Fund: 5,000 tons CO2
  • Parking Surcharge: Cumulative reductions (2008-20) 0.37 MMtCO2e (Million Metric tons Carbon Dioxide equivalent)
  • Cash-Out Program: Cumulative reductions (2008-20) 0.15 MMtCO2e (Million Metric tons Carbon Dioxide equivalent)

Cost to the City

Moderately Expensive to Expensive
Some of these strategies can actually serve to generate revenue for the city through parking fees. The costs of institutionalizing the fees would not be insignificant as it would include educational outreach and advertising costs. Physical costs would include the metering system itself which can take a number of different forms. The most significant costs might be the enforcement of parking and the management of the Parking Enterprise Fund.

Stakeholders

  • Downtown business community - employers and employees
  • City of Tacoma
  • City of Tacoma employees
  • Pierce Transit (PEF)
  • Sound Transit (PEF)
  • Puget Sound Regional Council (PEF)
  • Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PEF)
  • Other city residents

Barriers

  • The most difficult hurdle to overcome is the actual institutionalizing of charging for parking where previously people could park for free. It is often difficult to begin charging for something that has always been free.
  • Because of the above, convincing businesses to charge for parking and/or provide parking "cash out" may be difficult. Their may be concerns that charging for parking will send both employees and customers to other areas. Also, businesses may be reluctant to take on the added burden of integrating new parking policies and procedures into their organizations.

Benefits

  • Charging for parking would likely motivate some employees and shoppers to use public transportation thus reducing traffic congestion in the downtown.
  • Shoppers and employees are more likely to make using public and alternative means of transportation a regular part of their lives, instilling good behavior.

Partners

  • Downtown business community
  • Pierce Transit (PEF)
  • Sound Transit (PEF)
  • Puget Sound Regional Council (PEF)
  • Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PEF)

Tasks

For beginning parking fees the city will need to designate appropriate areas, install meters and provide management and enforcement services. The Parking Enterprise Fund will require a number of steps to be taken for the actual creation, followed by fund management and promotion of alternative transportation methods.

Success Stories
Boston, MA
 
Boston has a number of different parking initiatives aimed at "discouraging commuters, especially those in single occupancy vehicles, to drive into the city". Time limits and fees are enforced to discourage drivers in heavy use areas and "parking freezes" limits on the number of physical spaces have also be instituted. U.S. Council of Mayors - Climate Change Best Practices Manual - pg. 54

Sydney, Australia 
"Parking Fees: Fighting Climate Change?" February 1, 2007
The city is considering "graded" parking fees - charging different fees based on fuel consumption. One independent section of the city made almost $200,000 from such fees over one financial year.
David Jeffery
http://greenomics.blogspot.com/2007/02/parking-fees-fighting-climate-change.html

Minneapolis-Saint Paul, MN
"Parking Cash-out: Where "Smart growth" and Effective Transit Intersect" This article outlines an extensive "cash out" program instituted by the twin cities that yielded an 11 percent decrease in the use of single occupancy vehicles.
www.mplstmo.org/pdf/Parking%20Cash-out%20Article.pdf

[1]"23 percent less commute VMT: Paid Office Parking: Paid parking reduces commute trips by 23 percent, producing very large CO2 reduction", 6.15.07
www.cities21.org/paidParking.htm