SANTA FE – Adjustments to the parking rates in Santa Fe were overdue and necessary, resulting in a projected $900,000 annual increase in parking revenue, according to a memo from the director of the city’s parking division.

The memo from Noel Correia dated Monday concludes the city achieved what it set out to do when street parking meter rates were increased and off-street parking rates were lowered in 2016. It was included in the packet for Monday night’s Public Works Committee, but the informational item was postponed by the committee in the interest of time because three of its members – Peter Ives, Joseph Maestas and Ron Trujillo – were scheduled to attended a mayoral candidate forum later that night.

Many residents and downtown business owners complained when rates at parking meters went up from $1 to $2 for the first hour of parking, saying the higher rates would discourage potential customers from coming downtown to shop.

“Although not too popular, a parking meter rate adjustment was not only way overdue but an absolute necessity to correct the parking imbalance which was caused by the long-standing and inappropriate parking rate structure,” Correia wrote.

But the adjustment has been successful in creating 15 percent parking space availability for metered parking, an industry standard followed by most cities, according to Correia. That means there’s enough turnover in parking spots for people to more easily find an open parking spot. The result of that is more than 200,000 vehicles using on-street parking spots and for shorter periods of time when compared to before the increase went into effect.

According to the parking division’s analysis, the average time a vehicle is parked at a meter dropped by more than an hour – from 2 hours, 42 minutes to 1 hour, 37 minutes.

Basing parking revenues on midyear figures, Correia wrote the city is on pace to generate about $2.33 million from metered parking this fiscal year, compared with $1.41 million before the increase.

Use of the city’s parking garages has increased as a result of the rate adjustment because people have more incentive to use off-street parking, the report says.

The first hour of parking in a garage was reduced from $2 to $1. In addition, a new monthly rate of $35 that’s available only to people making $15 per hour or less, or $31,200 per year, has had “phenomenal” success. So much so that the number of spots allocated for monthly parking spots at the Sandoval Street garage and the Water Street lot are maxed out.

Correia is scheduled to present the report to the Public Works Committee at its next meeting on Feb. 26.

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