About 80 downtown business owners and employees have signed a petition urging Republican Mayor Greg Ballard’s administration to nix major plans to revamp metered parking in Indianapolis.The Ballard administration has given the false impression that downtown business owners support his plan to more than double parking fees and turn over the City's parking meters to a private vendor to own and operate for the next 50 years. In reality, that support is represented by Indianapolis Downtown, Inc., a nonprofit organization funded by city tax dollars that does not speak for downtown business owners. Jarosz' article notes the support of David Andrichik, owner of the Chatterbox Tavern; however, I spoke to Andrichik after I heard him testify at the City-County Council hearing and explained to him a lot of the details the Ballard administration has not shared with the public about the deal. Andrichik said he was unaware of many of those details. His primary concern is forcing a turnover in the use of the parking spaces so his customers can find parking spaces in the neighborhood. There are obviously other ways of cracking that nut without selling an important city asset to a firm that doesn't exactly have a stellar track record for running government-owned assets. Adamson is primarily concerned about the impact of doubling the rates at a time when businesses are already reeling from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The Ballard administration is only concerned about getting its hands on a pile of money to spend on downtown improvements ahead of a Super Bowl game that may or may not take place in 2012 and rewarding campaign contributors with sweetheart deals.
Zach Adamson, who owns the salon Just Hair near Ohio and Pennsylvania streets, circulated the petition among establishments mainly on the east side of downtown. Adamson plans to run for City-County Council in 2011 as a Democrat.
He and other signatories are concerned about the city’s 50-year lease of the meters, which would double hourly rates from 75 cents to $1.50 by 2012 at meters in Broad Ripple and busy downtown areas.
It also would add Saturday hours and extend hours into the evening in those areas.
UPDATE: Urbanophile's Aaron Renn has posted a lengthy response here to Deputy Mayor Mike Huber's weak attempt to defend the one-sided lease agreement in the face of Renn's critical analysis of the deal. "Unfortunately, the deal still contains fatal flaws that would make it a big mistake to implement," Renn responds. "The city’s response more or less acknowledges most of the points I made – the contract cannot be terminated for convenience, the contract is similar to Chicago’s, permit parking is required in Broad Ripple, bagging fees are $15, the placard program is being revoked, etc. They merely disagree on some of the specifics around them and the importance of them."