Detroit will have a revamped parking system by summer

Mar 3, 2015 at 1:08 pm

If there were one issue that transcends the burgeoning divide of New vs. Old Detroit it, without question, would be the city’s dreadful parking system. Yes, parking doesn’t typically jump right out and garner considerable attention, but Detroit’s system is so problematic for downtown businesses, employees, and residents, it has consistently been a talking point for years.

In the eyes of former Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, it’s an issue that could begin to see resolution by, for example, tripling the fines for violations.

So now, instead of being able to pay $10 for a parking meter violation, scofflaws have to fork over $45, which, if you ask anyone, can be a huge deterrent when half of Detroit’s meters are broken. And, yes, meter maids hold no discretion when it comes to a broken system; they will,still issue a ticket.

Last summer, Orr also sought proposals to privatize either some, or all, of Detroit’s parking system, a move that raised concerns among many, especially after a disastrous deal in Chicago, which “leased” its system for 99 years at a fraction of its worth. Even worse to some, the consultant who prepared Chicago’s deal was selected by Orr to do the same here.

Now, while it appears a parking deal is off the table for now, there is some heartening news on that front: A story from Crain’s Detroit Business last week revealed Detroit should have a new parking system rolled out by summertime.

The proposal will require approval by Detroit City Council, according to John Roach, Mayor Mike Duggan’s spokesperson. Motorists will be able to buy time using coins, a debit or credit card, or through a mobile app.

“As they do in some other nearby communities, motorists would pay at a kiosk as opposed to individual meters,” Roach tells MT.

The system will be “license plate based,” Roach says, meaning once you pay, you can park at any metered spot.

“So, if you had some business to take care of downtown but wanted to go to Midtown for lunch, you could pay once to cover the total amount of time you need and move from one parking location to another,” he says.

But here’s the highlight: Gary Brown, Detroit’s chief operating officer, told Crain’s Amy Haimerl the city “hopes to reintroduce a reduced parking fine for those who pay within a certain period of time.” As literally any Detroit resident can recall, if you received a $20 ticket for an expired meter violation, the city would take off $10 if you paid the fine within 10 days.

Thanks to Orr’s new $45 rates, you can safely assume we’ll never see the $10 ticket again in Detroit, but it’s a welcome suggestion, especially for small business owners downtown whose patrons may feel deterred by keeping their car parked at a broken meter.

The system is expected to be installed in certain locations across the city in March and should be completed by summertime.