It initially seemed exasperating.
The city government was looking to impose parking fees in Aggieville so as to pay for the giant parking garage they’re building next to Rally House. My immediate reaction, when I read the story in The Mercury last week, was: Knock the damn thing down and let me keep parking for free. Why didn’t they make this clear from the outset?
But then, since I attempt to put my money where my mouth is, I endeavored to listen first before popping off. I learned a few things, and I would encourage you to do the same. My view came around.
First and foremost, the parking garage is being built with other money. That money is essentially coming from the growth in property values in Aggieville, and from economic development money that’s intended to help create new jobs here. It’s a sales tax we already pay.
You could argue about whether we need a parking garage, I suppose, but my point at the moment is that it’s defensible. They’re not trying to build a parking garage with money from parking fees that they’re only now imposing.
The money we’re talking about is the cost of operating the parking garage and a parking system throughout Aggieville, not building the garage. That money, about $400,000 per year, will pay for the people to drive around monitoring parking, and for the technological gizmos and software required to operate that system. It will also pay to maintain the garage — lights wear out, and so forth.
This all stems from decisions to try to do something about a shortage of parking in and around Aggieville. That’s been a problem for a long time, at least at peak times. They want to keep parking spots open so that people can go down there to do business — which means they have to keep people from parking there for hours at a time. And if you’re going to build a garage there, you’re going to have to keep people from doing exactly that, chewing up all the parking that you’re building to begin with.
So you need a monitoring and enforcement system. And that includes imposing parking fees.
My guess is it will all end up fine. If you want to run down to Thread to pick up a goofy t-shirt over your lunch hour, you’ll still be able to parallel-park on Moro, get the shirt, and go back to the office.
No cost, no problem. You just can’t park there and then go over to City Pool to float down the lazy river for the afternoon, or day-drink at the Lou until quitting time. That will cost you. For parking, I mean.
What you’ve got is a popular area — a college bar district — right next to a university with a major parking shortage of its own. That means you’ve got parking issues. The notion that there would be a parking garage, and parking fees associated with that garage, should not be any sort of surprise.