Committee reviews downtown parking proposals

No action was taken, but City of Delaware Police Chief Bruce Pijanowski started the conversation this week about three proposed changes for downtown parking.

Pijanowski leads the Enforcement Group of the Downtown Parking Advocacy Committee. It proposed expanding the enforcement hours, parking time limits, and the fine structure.

“We wanted to get something out as a discussion,” the police chief said at the city’s Parking and Safety Committee meeting on Monday.

The Enforcement Group’s recommendations include extending parking enforcement hours to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, instead of the current period of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. It also recommends adding enforcement hours on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“That’s a huge paradigm shift,” said Councilman Chris Jones, 1st Ward. “… People will flip out over that.”

He said the Saturday enforcement hours would be “detrimental” to downtown.

Councilwoman Lisa Keller agreed. “I don’t like it at all,” she said.

Vice Mayor Kent Shafer said they need more input from downtown business owners.

Delaware has operated with two part-time parking control attendants for a number of years, said Lee Yoakum, the city’s community affairs coordinator. The 2017 budget included funds for a third part-time attendant.

“We are currently working to fill that new PT position, plus one of the other existing ones after a retirement earlier this year. So we are down two attendants,” he said.

All three attendants would work 30 hours per week starting at $13.75 per hour.

“What the impact of extended hours will be, as it relates to citations or fine amounts, is impossible to determine at this time. We do know that extended hours will provide additional time to identify issues,” Yoakum added.

In addition, Jones and Keller appeared to support the Enforcement Group’s recommendations to increase the limit of two-hour parking spaces to three hours.

Keller said it would give people time to see a movie at the Strand Theatre.

The committee also recommended two options to change the current fine structure for metered parking. The current fine is $40 for those who park over the limited time for two-hour parking spots and $7 until midnight or $10 after midnight for metered parking.

The first option would be to charge $25 for metered and non-metered parking. The other option would be to maintain the $40 fine, but increase the fine for repeat offenders with the maximum at $60.

Pijanowski said Delaware’s fines are relatively low compared to other central Ohio communities and that fines are effective. But he said the city has to find a balance for the penalties to be less restrictive for visitors, but less advantageous for parking violators to exploit.

“If you make it user-friendly … the downtown abusers will take advantage,” he said.

The group’s recommendation to change fee structure for metered parking will be presented at a later time in conjunction with other similar changes. The proposed change would require to drivers to pay 25 cents for one hour instead of offering 5 cents for 12 minutes and 10 cents for 24 minutes.

The proposed changes are the first to be presented at a city meeting after Delaware City Council approved the parking study drafted by MKSK Consultants in late February. The Downtown Parking Advocacy Committee, or DPAC, consists of about 28 members including downtown property and business owners, residents and city staff. It was formed to address some of the 50 proposed changes from the implementation matrix based on the study.

In other business, the committee heard resident complaints about speeding and traffic volume issues on Hull Drive. Keller recommended that a future meeting between staff and residents would be a more appropriate forum in which to resolve the issue.

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By Brandon Klein

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Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.