Sacramento: A preview of short term parking politics in Portland?

The city of Sacramento is raising parking meter rates $0.50, from $1.25 to $1.75 this week.  Additionally they are starting a pilot project to allow for progressive pricing in some zones.  Progressive pricing allows parkers to pay higher hourly rates in exchange for staying longer in time-limited zones, rather than getting a ticket.  The price after the second hour goes up, first to $3 for the third hour and then $3.75 each hour after that.

Oddly, a two hour stay at the cheapest garage in downtown Sacramento will cost you $6 or more, compared to $3.50 for a two hour meter stay… so there is still work to be done there.

While this, and the potential for changes to hours of enforcement have local business districts predictably concerned, city officials are trying to promote the message that higher turnover and a better parking experience are good for business, not bad.

Portland is a few months behind Sacramento on this track.  Next Thursday, December 17, city council will consider raising downtown meter rates $0.40 from $1.60 to $2.00.  One of the reasons given is to bring on-street parking rates into better alignment with the city owned SmartPark garages, which, after an increase, will be cheaper than the more convenient on-street parking.

City staff seem somewhat reluctant, at this time, to press their luck on the hours of enforcement.  Some members of the committee that made the recommendation advocated for longer hours of enforcement, particularly considering that the highest observed occupancy was from 7-9pm downtown, right after enforcement ends.

Nevertheless, changes are in the pipeline for the city of Portland to consider performance pricing on downtown meters, and possibly progressive pricing as well.

We should keep a close eye on how things work out for Sacramento on this front.  It’s interesting they aren’t looking into performance pricing, but the progressive pricing model for long stays is one that holds a lot of promise.

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