Drivers hoping to park in downtown Ann Arbor will soon have to carry a bit more pocket change to feed the meters.

On Jan. 4, members of the Downtown Development Authority unanimously approved an increase in parking rates in the downtown Ann Arbor area. Beginning in September, the rate for street parking meters will increase from $1.40 an hour to $1.50 an hour — amounting to a 30-cent total increase since last September.

Other changes include raised rates for hourly and monthly parking in city parking structures and higher costs for parking violations, like parking at a bagged meter.

Susan Pollay, executive director of the Ann Arbor DDA, said the decision was made after a DDA committee proposed parking rate changes, held public hearings and gave a presentation to the Ann Arbor City Council about the 2012 parking system changes.

The majority of the raised revenue from parking will go toward the parking structure fund for maintenance, improvement and expansion, according to Susan Pollay, executive director of the Ann Arbor DDA.

“Rates are increasing for two big reasons,” Pollay said. “First, to cover increasing costs to operate the parking system, and two, to pay for the cost to expand the public parking system with two new parking structures.”

One of the new parking structures is currently under construction on the old library lot. Surrounding businesses have complained about the lengthy duration of the project, alleging it has hurt their businesses. However, Pollay said the additional structures are necessary.

“It has been nearly 30 years after the last new public parking structure was constructed in downtown — the Liberty Square parking structure — despite more than 2.5 million square feet of private development, and it was clear that more parking was needed,” Pollay said.

Pollay noted that seven of the 12 DDA members own or work for downtown businesses, so they are aware of customer and employee concerns about parking.

City Council member Sandi Smith (D–Ward 1), a member of the DDA committee, agreed that the cost would not disrupt local businesses.

“I don’t think it’s going to have a negative effect,” Smith said. “We continue to have more and more visitors downtown year over year, but the thing about coming downtown is that it is hard to find places to park, so expansion is critical.”

Smith said the small increase is not enough to dissuade visitors from coming to Ann Arbor.

“It’s only another dime,” Smith said. “If you are coming for lunch and stay two hours, it’s only an additional twenty cents on your bill and I don’t think enough to keep anyone from doing what their plans are.”

City Council member Mike Anglin (D–Ward 5) opposed the new parking structure efforts, which he said moves away from sustainability initiatives in the city.

“We want to get people out of the cars, not in them,” Anglin said. “We are looking to expand our bus system, so that we could employ more people. A parking structure is an old solution for an old problem.”

Anglin added he believes the city is mishandling their funds and would rather have money used for programs that directly aid citizens in need and support environmental efforts.

“Everyone is looking for sustainability and the ability to keep going without spending more and more money,” Anglin said. “I would prefer to have money available to help humans and not parking structures.”

Business sophomore Rachael Brunk said she plans to avoid driving downtown whenever possible as a result of the parking rate increases.

“I don’t like (the increased cost),” Brunk said. “I’ll just walk from my house instead. It’s a hassle but not worth it to pay $5 for just a few hours.”

Business senior Jake Barnett said he isn’t bothered by the meter rate increases since the benefit of being able to park in the city outweighs the small price raise.

“People are always looking to park for game days,” Barnett said. “That parking structure could be a bank for game day parking.”

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