There are still issues with the way Richmond's downtown parking systems are managed, according to a consultant's report.
Completed last year, a parking study indicates that the city would be better served if a “singularly focused” entity managed the city's various downtown parking spaces. The same recommendation was made in a separate 2002 parking assessment, according to the more recent report.
Richmond's public parking facilities, which provide more than 13,000 parking spaces throughout downtown, are controlled by a multitude of government and political agencies, including the city, the Richmond Metropolitan Authority. and Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority. Their collective stewardship is described as “inefficient, inconsistent and poorly executed” in a 2010 addendum by Tim Haahs and Associates, the engineering firm that conducted the study.
Richmond's problem is logistical, says Vicky Gagliano, a project manager for the firm. “You've got several different managers who are all doing things differently,” she says. “It's not that the way they're doing it is wrong. But it can make things difficult to coordinate.”
Consolidation could save more than $300,000 in labor costs per year, according to the study. And a centralized parking entity could free administrators at the various agencies to concentrate on other work.
Asked to comment, Richmond Metropolitan Authority spokeswoman Linda McElroy says it doesn't usually receive copies of parking-related studies conducted by the city. And it hasn't received a copy of this latest report, she says. Officials at the authority agreed in a meeting with representatives from engineers that a central parking authority would be a benefit, according to the report.
“I agree with the recommendation that the management of parking has been too disparate,” Richmond Chief Administrator Byron Marshall says. The city is preparing a formal request for bids from companies that can manage both on-street parking and city-owned parking facilities, he says.
The report comes as the city prepares to purchase the five downtown parking decks owned by the Broad Street Community Development Authority. At $3.6 million generated this year, the five facilities fell considerably short of the budgeted forecasts of $7.3 million in revenue.
The report makes a number of potentially controversial recommendations, including raising the metered parking rate from 50 cents an hour and placing meters in high-traffic areas such as Shockoe Slip. It also calls for upgrades to parking infrastructure, including on-the-street meters that accept debit and credit cards as payment.