Downtown Columbia customers could see more available parking

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COLUMBIA - The Downtown Columbia Leadership Council talked about plans during a meeting Tuesday to make parking more available to customers downtown. A topic on the agenda was the Downtown Parking and Transit Pilot Program which is expected to start in May 2015.

According to the city there are about 7,000 employees that work in downtown Columbia. It said most downtown workers park at metered-parking closest to their jobs.

Downtown Community Improvement District, CID Representative Deb Sheals said "One of the things that we didn't talk about in the meeting that has made this a lot easier for the city is that now we can do permits through an app. So that makes it a little easier for administration we can move some of that administration to the private sector."

"CID has come to us with the recommendations and we've had it on our agenda a few months and it seems like a really good idea we voted to support it tonight unanimously. so i think city council is the next step for this program
but we are supporting the piolet programs so I think giving it one year to see how it works I think is a good idea," said Downtown Columbia Leadership Council Chair Brent Gardner.

The city said the issue is the meters are meant for customers in a heavy retail district, and most employees can't afford the $60/month parking permit or $55/month transit pass.

The council has established a proposal for a pilot program to help the employees of downtown Columbia park in other areas to make room for potential customers.

The city wants to make money with infrequently used parking spaces and make high demand parking spaces available for a higher turn over.

The Downtown Columbia Leadership Council expects to bring the proposed program to Columbia City Council in March or April. The pilot program would last for one year and then be reevaluated.

This is the proposal, as described by the Downtown Columbia Leadership Council:

Proposal: A one-year pilot program to give downtown employees and general public access to low cost bus
passes and meter permits. Bus passes will be $25; meter permits will be $25 per month. Income from the
program will be split between the transit and parking utilities.
• The pilot program will be limited to 200 bus passes and 200 parking meter permits.
o According to a 2012 parking inventory, there are around 400 meters that currently have less than 20%
occupancy rates. There are also quite a few meters with less than 30% occupancy rates. There is ample
room on busses to add riders.
• Meter permits will be good only for specially designated 10-hour meters.
• The existing ban on 24 hour parking in metered spaces will continue to be enforced. Tickets for parking more
than 24 hours are $35 each, which should effectively deter use of metered spaces for long term parking.
• The parking program will be available to the general public.
• Low cost bus passes will be made available to downtown employees by expanding the existing categories of
"reduced-fare eligible riders" to include downtown employees. (This program will be modeled after the
Eco-pass system in Boulder.)

Below is a map of where expected 10-hour parking for employees will be.