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The Boulder City Council unanimously voted to approve a proposal submitted by the Downtown University Hill Management Division (DUHMD) and Parking Services Wednesday after a public hearing at council chambers. The proposal, which has been under consideration for several years, includes an increase in short-time parking rates from $1 to $1.25 per hour in downtown town Boulder along with an extension of meter charge time from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
The proposal also includes a replacement plan for converting from single-head meters to electronic multi-space pay stations in effort to make parking more customer friendly.
The approved changes will be introduced sometime after April 2007.
The increased rates, expected to amount to $1.9 billion for 2007, will be used to help pay off the expected $650,000 cost of new parking technology. The rates will also be re-invested in downtown Boulder, particularly for parking garage maintenance.
DUHMD and Parking Services conducted an extensive study of downtown parking over the last 18 months. Drawn from feedback and focus groups, the study found that many of the issues with downtown parking involve the inconvenience of coin operated meters, parking tickets and not enough spaces.
Molly Winter, the director of DUHMD and Parking Services, says the new parking technology will help resolve these issues.
“In other cities parking technology was found to increase compliance to pay parking and decrease tickets,” Winter said.
The new pay stations, which will be solar-powered, allow payments by cash, coins, credit and debit cards. Each pay station will control six to 10 spaces with wireless technology. Users will pay for their time in advance to receive a ticket stub, which they are to display on their dashboard.
Critics at the hearing said the new system would be inconvenient because users would have to walk to the pay station and then back to their car.
Others questioned how motorcycles will display ticket stubs, as they have no interior to safely place them.
Boulder resident Peter Jones said identity theft may be a concern. He informed the council that wireless Internet networks are susceptible to hacking.
“I’m sure I could get any of my friends to hack into the wi-fi system in less than an hour,” Jones said.
Winter responded that the pay stations will be protected by PCI security standards required by all major credit card companies.
Currently, downtown Boulder has approximatly 4,000 public parking spots. Without meters the number of spots will increase as designated parking lines fade and cars are allowed to park with ticket stubs.
Downtown Boulder business owners expressed both support and disapproval of the new system.
“I think the technology is a fantastic idea,” Cynthia Nye, owner of High Crimes Mystery Book Shop, said. “But my customers don’t want to pay 25 cents more when they’ve got acres of free parking available at the new 29th Street (Mall).”
Boulder Bookstore owner David Balduc is in favor of the new system.
“Parking is the reason people don’t come downtown. My store is adjacent to the Spruce parking structure so a lot of my customers park there. It is badly in disrepair. The lighting is dim and a lot of the women are afraid to park there. If the rate increase helps fix (the parking garage) then I’m for it,” Balduc said.
Among other suggestions at the hearing, one Boulder local suggested changing the uniforms of the parking attendants to rainbow colors.
While the details of the DUHMD and Parking Services’ plan are still being worked, the City Council will continue to work to improve accommodations for Boulder residents, tourists and the city’s 50,000 daily commuters.
Donna Jobert for DUHMD/Parking Services can be contacted (303) 413-7313.
Jodie Carroll works Media Relations for the City of Boulder. Her phone is (303) 441-3155.
For more information visit www.bouldercolorado.gov.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer James Collector at firstname.lastname@example.org.