For the first time since 1996, street parking rates are set to rise in Richmond – increasing from 50 cents an hour to 75 cents an hour.
The proposal is expected to generate $250,000 annually, funding infrastructure and City investment projects. While supporters say the increase is long overdue, opponents contend the time isn't right to mess with Richmond's meters.
"I think this would make my street parking customers think twice," said Paul Kessler, owner of Padow's Deli on East Main Street. "Money's tight. And the economy is supposed to be getting better. It's not getting better."
A 2002 parking study cited by the City of Richmond suggests higher prices for street parking do not hinder economic development. The findings were presented in the text of the proposed ordinance.
Councilmember Kathy Graziano, 4th District, leads Richmond's Finance and Economic Development Committee, and said the Council will most likely approve the increase.
"My reaction was, ‘we haven't raised it since 1996? Let's do it,'" Graziano said.
If the move passes, VCU student Thibault Robert said he and his friends will most likely forget street parking altogether, and head to one of the University's parking decks.
"We're at that limit where [the parking rate] is just high enough where we can deal with it," Thibault said. "That 25 cent increase adds up for people like us, who feed the meters every day and who are students."
Graziano said traditional parking meters will also be phased out on Richmond streets, replaced with credit-card payment parking stations.
Public comment is encouraged before a final vote is cast May 28.
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