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West Downtown: Paid Parking Falling Short of Revenue Goals

The Dearborn Parking Commission is exploring ways to tweak the system to help boost income. Part one of four in a series on west downtown Dearborn.

Concerns that could cause a drop in usage may be proving true, according to Parking Commission statistics released this month.

A year-to-year comparison of usage from July-December shows that total usage dropped in almost every major parking facility in the west end from 2010 to 2011–a total of 15,159 less transactions. The exception was the West Parking Deck, where the number of transactions rose 12 percent. But in Lot A–one of the city's busiest lots–the drop was especially noticeable, with usage falling 20 percent.

On-street meter usage fell 18.5 percent during the same time period.

As a result, the city has fallen short of its expected revenue so far on the paid parking system for the 2011-12 fiscal year.

"Revenues aren't where we were expecting them to be," said Elizabeth Wilkinson of the city's Finance Department.

It was predicted that the city would improve upon 2010-11 revenue, based on the fact that parking rates were raised across the board in July 2011. The plan was to eventually make the parking program self-sufficient, requiring no general fund contributions.

However, a decrease in usage has meant that while parking income hasn't dropped, it's not hitting 2011-12 goals.

The budget through 2015 predicts about $1.4 million in annual revenue from the parking system, including parking and enforcement. As of Dec. 31, the system had collected $735,000–or 42 percent of the goal. And while expenses are also down for 2012, Wilkinson warned that if revenues stay consistent, the need for general fund subsidizing of the system could be significantly more than what was budgeted.

Scot Mooney of Republic Parking admitted at the Parking Commission's Jan. 19 meeting that the rate changes might be having a negative affect on parking habits.

"We decided on this particular scenario … based on estimates," he explained. "There was no way of knowing how customers would react. The facts are … the numbers are down."

"Our rate change did make some impact," he added. "People are noticing the changes and they’re changing their behavior."

Mooney suggested that the commission look into making minor tweaks to the system, including lowering the time limit on meters with the highest usage to encourage turnover, or restructuring the rates in Lot A.

Parking commissioner and owner John Lossia said he sees it as a much simpler problem.

“What it boils down to is that people just do not like paid parking," he said. "When they had a half hour free, it was different.”

manager and commissioner Steven Guibord agreed: "We just need more people in the district."

Silvio Davis January 31, 2012 at 10:27 PM
The parking was a horrible decision by our mayor and he wont take away paid parking until it is paid for. Every idea or strategy he has come up to "better Dearborn" has failed. Paid parking is one of the biggest failures and waste of city money in history. Will the mayor use some common sense now that these numbers have come out? NO he doesnt care about losing money or negative impacts on his wasteful ideas....Thats why Dearborn is where it is today.... EVERYONE WHO READS THIS SHOULD CALL OUR MAYOR AND TELL HIM WHAT A JOKE PAID PARKING IS!!
Rich February 01, 2012 at 01:31 AM
SandraB said "How do you expect the business owners to stay in business and pay taxes if they can't keep afloat?" TRUE! But, for those of you who do not know any of the many long-term Dearborn businesses that used to occupy all those vacant spaces, how about the immense greed of the landlords who have a strangle hold on that district. They cannot be controlled by the City and all they care about is more and more $$$ in their pockets. I know one former business owner whose base rent was $2500 BUT was paying $5000/mo after all the landlord's increases for this and that. If the landlords were at all concerned about the district, especially in this economy, they'd make the rents reasonable enough for new smaller specialty shops to have a chance at success - which would then also raise the parking revenues. There must be a lot of tax advantages in vacant properties!
Septina Monroe February 01, 2012 at 03:03 AM
SANDRA B, I AGREE WITH YOU FULLY. i SHOP IN DEARBORN HEIGHTS,EAST DEARBORN AND ALLEN PARK.I HAVE REFUSED TO EVER PAY FOR PARKING.THIS IS WHY I NEVER GO TO ROYAL OAK OR BIRMINGHAM,NO MATTER WHAT IS GOING ON. I WILL NEVER PAY, BE NERVOUS,WORRIED WHILE I TRY TO SHOP, EAT AND RELAX. THE CITY HALL JERKS JUST DO NOT GET IT.THE PLANNING COMMISSION DENIED THE NEW GOODWILL STORE IN THE 12 YEAR EMPTY INCA BUILDING IN THE ACO PLAZA.I NEEDED THAT STORE TO VOLUNTEER AND DONATE TO SINCE THE COUNCIL OF THE BLIND CLOSED ON FORD AND TELEGRAPH. WE ARE DRYING UP, DYING TO STRIVE TO REMAIN UPSCALE.THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE IN WEST DEARBORN ARE NO LONGER UPPER MIDDLE CLASS.I NEED THE RESALE,DISCOUNT AND SMALL RETAILERS TO SURVIVE.YOU SEE COLDSTONE ICE CREAM DID NOT LAST LONG.I HAVE TO GO TO REDFORD TO EXERCISE.I GET THE LOWEST GAS PRICES IN REDFORD.I AM SO DISGUSTED WITH CITY COUNCIL, I WILL BE MOVING AS SOON AS I CAN UNLOAD MY HOUSE AFTER 40 YEARS IN BOTH SIDES OF DEARBORN. THE CRIME IS OUT OF CONTROL.I HAVE GIVEN UP WITH OUR MAYOR,COUNCIL AND CHAMBER OF COMMERCE. GONE SOON AND SO SAD! HENRY FORD IS ROLLING IN HIS GRAVE!
Cruisma February 01, 2012 at 03:11 AM
I have to agree with Sandra & Septina, only I would say Mayor Hubbard is really rolling over in his grave. The town he built & people envied its residents is all but destroyed. My husband & I also want to get out of Dearborn as soon as possible. Our taxes are out of site & still going up & for what??... to make up for their dumd decisions. Where else can you live in a modest house and pay 3 times the taxes my sister in Grosse Pointe pays where they walk up to her side door & get her garbage cans & return them??
R February 01, 2012 at 06:14 PM
I quit going to West Dearborn once paid parking started. There are many "free" choices in the surrounding communities. Especially "the hill" in Allen Park and many places in Dearborn Heights.

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