Politics & Government

Tacoma’s on-street parking rates to rise while garage rates will drop

Tacoma’s on-street parking rates will increase by 25 cents to $1 per hour, starting Aug. 25.

At the same time, the cost to park at three of the city’s parking garages will drop for all but those who stay six hours or longer. The biggest savings will be for those who park from three to four hours in one spot. Those people currently pay $10 to park for that duration; they will see the rate drop to $4.

The city’s Parking Technical Advisory Group recommended the changes earlier this year, and City Manager T.C. Broadnax now has signed off on them.

The parking rates will change in late August to allow students and staff at University of Washington Tacoma enough time to get used to them, said Parking Services Manager Eric Huseby.

Time limits for on-street parking will not change, Huseby said. A year ago, the city lowered the limits in several areas from two hours to 90 minutes.

Those who overstay the street time limit or do not pay for parking risk getting a $25 ticket from city enforcement officers.

The city installed pay stations and started charging for on-street parking in 2010. Before that, parking enforcement officers sporadically ticketed vehicles that exceeded the two-hour time limit, said Steph Farber, a co-chairman of Tacoma’s Parking Technical Advisory Group.

Farber and many other downtown merchants wanted to see street parking reserved for drop-in customers and clients. But the high cost to park in garages forced store employees, students and others who spend several hours downtown to park on the streets instead.

Farber praised the upcoming rate changes, saying street parking will still be attractive to short-term visitors while city garages will be more cost-effective for those who need to stay longer.

“I want people who are my customers to be able to get to my doors,” said Farber, who is also co-owner of LeRoy Jewelers. “I want them to have a good experience, not just in my shop but being able to go around the downtown. That’s really the driving force here for lowering the rates for the garages.”

The evening parking garage rate, which begins at 5 p.m., will cap at $4 instead of the current $5. Farber said the city is also cleaning up its garages and making improvements to the lighting systems.

In 2012, the city expected to pay nearly $1 million out of its coffers to subsidize the parking system in the 2013-14 budget. Huseby said the parking division is currently running in the black and not expected to need a subsidy for the 2015-16 budget biennium.