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City council considers rolling back free parking, increasing fees

Proposed updates to the city’s parking system were presented for public discussion for the first time Wednesday. 

The update, based on research by the Bloomington Parking Commission and Desman Design Management, could affect parking for sorority and fraternity houses. The changes also include parking fees, zones, hours and overall management structure. 

Jim Blickensdorf, chair of the Parking Commission, presented the new approach divided into four sections: administrative changes, reserved residential on-street parking, structural changes and zoning adjustments. 

The ordinance would add a parking services director to centralize management. It would also make enforcement hours go from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday for all meters and lots, and 24 hours a day, six days a week for garages. 

The commission is proposing to reduce free parking in garages from three hours to one hour until 2021, when it would be completely eliminated.

“There will always be more demand for free parking than we can ever supply,” Blickensdorf said. 

Both studies from the Parking Commission and Desman Design Management found revenue generated through the parking system does not match operating costs. Consequently, parking operations are heavily subsidized by violation fees and tax increment financing revenue, Blickensdorf said.

The proposal increases parking tickets from $20 to $30. The fine would increase to $60 if not paid within 14 calendar days. 

Fees to purchase neighborhood permits would rise from $25 to $45, excluding seniors and people with disabilities. This is consistent with many comparable communities, Blickensdorf said. 

One recommendation would make residents of sorority and fraternity houses ineligible for neighborhood parking permits. Blickensdorf recommended putting this change on the October agenda due to a need for more data. 

Representatives from Phi Gamma Delta, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Pi Beta Phi and Alpha Phi spoke against this provision during the public comment period. 

Senior Maggie Hopkins, vice president of administration for IU Student Association, said she was concerned about the lack of student input on the issues presented, considering their significant effects on students.

Hopkins took issue with the fact that Kappa Alpha Theta, for instance, would lose its rights to street parking, while its next door neighbor, Collins Center, would maintain 100 neighborhood permits. Collins does not have its own parking lot.

Blickensdorf said he will reach out to student government and members of the Greek community for future deliberations.

Council members introduced three amendments. The first amendment clarifies language in the code. The second would enforce parking in Garden Hill, the new neighborhood zone, on weekends, and the third would increase the fine for parking in spots for disabled people from $100 to $150. 

Council president Dorothy Granger said the ordinance has not dealt with all the issues regarding parking. 

“This has been a Herculean task, if you will,” Granger said. 

The council will continue these discussions next week, where they may vote on amendments and could take final action. 

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