YPSILANTI, MI – Business districts in Ypsilanti’s city core could see increased metered parking and new pay-by-phone technology under a plan presented to City Council Monday night.
The Downtown Development Authority described a three-phrase approach to implement more paid parking in some of the city’s most popular areas.
City officials want to create faster turnover and increase revenue to improve existing parking options, though some residents and officials expressed concerns about the impact on businesses and residents.
“This whole thing makes us no longer a friendly city,” Mayor Pro Tem Lois Richardson said. “One of the things people always say to me is, ‘Whoa, I’d rather come to Ypsi and I don’t like going to Ann Arbor because I can’t find a place to park and, when I do, they charge me an arm and a leg.’ I hate to see us going down the same path.”
In phase one, the city would add pay-by-phone options operated by Passport Inc. on about 365 meters in the Downtown, Depot Town and West Cross districts, according the DDA proposal. The city would add paid parking in these previously free areas through kiosks or meters:
- About 30 spaces in the Freighthouse Lot in Depot Town
- About 20 spaces on Cross Street in Depot Town
- About 45 spaces on Michigan Avenue in Downtown
- About 140 spaces of long-term metered parking and permit parking in the Washington Street lot
The DDA also recommended increasing parking costs to $1 per hour, up from 75 cents.
Additionally, the city would shift several streets to employee and residential permit parking and the city would stop allowing permit holders to use metered spots without additional payment.
Phase one would take one to three months, according to the DDA proposal.
In phase two, parking lots on North and South Huron Street that are currently free for up to two hours would be converted to paid lots with a three- or four-hour limit, according to the DDA’s proposal.
That would convert about 150 more spots downtown to paid parking.
Phase two would take an additional three to nine months.
In phase three, parking kiosks would be added to lots on North Adams, Washington Street, Perrin Street and Normal Street. The DDA suggests these lots could accommodate longterm paid parking and permit parking for the West Cross District.
Phase three would take up to 15 months, according to the proposal. DDA Director Chris Jacobs said these additions would be last because parking revenue generated from the previous phases would allow the city to improve those parking lots before adding the payment requirement.
“Paid parking and establishing a market for paid parking in Depot Town could potentially help us with the revenue bond if we wanted to take on a bigger capital improvement, like the Frog Island lot,” Jacobs said.
Paid parking also discourages long-term parking that fills spaces and makes it appear as though there is a parking deficit, he said.
Phases one and two would cost about $140,000 to implement, according to the DDA, which estimates nearly $149,500 in annual revenue from the 335 new kiosk and metered spaces created during the first two phases.
Residents expressed concern that requiring smartphones to park would be prohibitive, though a pay-by-phone meter or kiosk would still accept cash. Others also mentioned how areas like Depot Town thrive in part because of their easy access because of free parking.
DDA officials said the presentation was intended to get feedback from the council before creating a policy proposition to present to council in late September.
Mayor Beth Bashert said she thinks the proposed parking changes are necessary to improve infrastructure and won’t affect Ypsilanti negatively.
“If paid parking was a fatality to an area, Ann Arbor would be dead and malls would be thriving,” Bashert said. “Instead, malls are dying and downtowns are coming back to life.”
“Malls are dying because of online shopping,” Richardson replied.
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