The City Council is moving forward with a vote that could lead to charging for on-street parking in downtown Durham.
The council on Thursday briefly discussed setting on-street parking fees, increasing hourly fees in garages and authorizing metered spaces downtown. It will now vote on those measures Sept. 6.
The plan calls for charging $1.50 an hour for the about 1,000 on-street public parking spaces in and near downtown, the American Tobacco Campus, the Durham Performing Arts Center, West Village, the Brightleaf District, Durham Central Park, the Durham County Human Services Complex and the North Corporation and Geer Street District.
The plan also calls for increasing the hourly rate in the city’s parking garages and lots from $1 an hour to $1.25. Event parking would rise from $3 to $5.
Research has found visitors and employees are exceeding time limits for on-street parking spaces, a city memorandum states.
The higher cost for on-street parking is meant to encourage those who plan to stay in the area longer to park in a garage, the memo states.
“I think it is the right thing to do,” said City Councilman Steve Schewel. “I am glad we are finally pushing this forward.”
A 2013 parking study on downtown and the Ninth Street area recommended raised rates and on-street parking charges. The city raised prices that year for some leased spaces downtown, but planned to phase in downtown on-street parking charges as it built up money to pay for the meters. The city of Raleigh charges $1.25 an hour for on-street parking on Fayetteville Street and $1 in other areas. It’s off-street hourly rate is $1 per 30 minutes. Chapel Hill charges $1.50 an hour for on-street and off-street parking.
City officials hope the parking meters will be in place by November. The on-street meters will include a combination of single-space parking meters, multi-space pay stations and a pay-by-cell phone payment system, said Thomas Leathers, division administrator with the city’s Transportation Department.
City Councilwoman Jillian Johnson said some community members were concerned about low-income drivers. She asked about alternatives that the city is providing to driving downtown.
City officials are talking with GoTriangle about a park and ride and other options , Leathers said.
Leathers said he can go back and look at how to best serve low-income drivers. Officials are proposing a parking debit card, which could provide some value to drivers.
“We need to make sure that residents of the city know that there are low-cost alternative ways to get downtown,” she said. “We need to make sure we are advertising those.”
The new and increased fees would result in a projected revenue increase of nearly $1.16 million this fiscal year and $2.82 million in the 2017-18 fiscal year.
Parking revenue goes into a dedicated fund, which covers parking-related repairs and the construction of a new downtown parking deck.
In other business
The City Council is also scheduled to consider at its Sept. 6 meeting:
▪ Adopting the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Corridor Plan. Adoption would enable planning staff to inform citizens and development applicants of the planned alignment and make recommendations for development planned along the corridor.
▪ Authorizing a reimbursement agreement with Liberty Warehouse apartments developer worth more than $70,000 to build a sidewalk loop and make other improvements to control stormwater runoff in Durham Central Park.
▪ Conducting a public hearing and possibly voting on the Golden Belt Local Historic District and Preservation Plan.
▪ Authorizing a $220,260 grant to the Durham Housing Authority that would make available about 300 additional Section 8 vouchers.
In recent years, the Section 8 program has been operating below capacity, according to memo on the request. DHA can administer about 2,700 Section 8 vouchers, but currently has more than 300 unused vouchers due to insufficient funding for staffing, training and equipment.
“The Section 8 cash infusion is not intended to be a permanent financial fix to the program but a one-time investment that will yield additional affordable housing units,” the memo states.
The current waiting list has 162 families, but a new waiting list would be opened in September, the memo states.
▪ Conduct a public hearing and possibly vote on proposed changes to the city’s housing code and nonresidential building code. Some of the proposed changes include requiring roofing free of vegetation, closet space in homes and provisions that would allow them to cite owners of property in which hoarding has made the property unsafe.