A new parking plan for the city of Lawrence includes a number of worthwhile improvements, including parking meters that allow for payment with credit or debit cards.
Lawrence city commissioners will review the recommendations and take public comment on them at a meeting tonight. The plan was developed by consultants who analyzed the city’s current parking system and gathered resident feedback. The area used in the study includes downtown, East Lawrence, Old West Lawrence and the Oread Neighborhood. Feedback was collected from residents, real estate developers, business owners and downtown employees.
The consultants said the city needs a “central and active management approach” to parking. Currently, public parking systems downtown include metered spaces, free two-hour lots, permitted 10-hour lots and three parking garages. There is no requirement for new development downtown to provide additional parking and no permitting systems for the on-street parking in adjacent neighborhoods.
The recommendations would make significant changes to the current system. Under Phase I, recommendations include implementing a boot and tow policy to deal with habitual parking violators, adding residential permit parking for downtown neighborhoods, eliminating the designation of on-street parking spaces for one particular property, replacing five-hour meters with 10-hour meters and changing 15- and 30-minute meters to two-hour meters.
Phase II of the project recommends adding kiosks that allow for electronic monitoring and payment for on-street parking and in facilities, adding a web portal to allow for online payment of tickets and purchase of permits, extending meter hours in active areas to 9 p.m. on weekdays and Saturdays, and increasing rates charged on Mass Street on 10-hour meters and for permits.
The city’s website — lawrenceks.org/ — includes a complete list of parking recommendations.
It’s hard to argue with the consultant’s recommendations. The city definitely needs a more active parking management plan and rates should be increased where possible. Adding electronic payment systems — both for parking and for tickets — would increase collections and revenue. And using a permit system for neighborhoods is a sensible approach to on-street parking.
There is no singular solution to downtown parking, but a well-developed, multifaceted strategy that incorporates thoughtful pricing, permitting and advances in technology can ensure efficiency and increased revenues. Adopting some or all of the consultants’ recommendations is the right step for commissioners.