County Councilmember Roger Berliner told a Citizens Advisory Board on Monday that he sees recent changes in Bethesda’s parking fee structure as a move toward the demand pricing that cities are using to reduce circling and double parking in busier areas.
The County Council approved the County Department of Transportation’s recommendation for the new parking fee structure in the FY14 operating budget. The new system will make on-street meter parking $2 an hour, parking lot spaces $1.25 an hour and parking garage spaces 80 cents an hour starting July 1.
Existing rates are $1.25 an hour for any parking space up to four hours and 80 cents an hour for any long-term parking in excess of four hours. Parking garage spaces have been found to be the least desireable, depending on the location and time of day, with empty spaces common in some Bethesda county garages (11 and 35 for instance).
On the other side of the coin, finding a spot in Garage 40 during happy hour on Cordell Avenue or in Garage 35 as residents in Battery Lane apartment buildings return from work can be more difficult. The Lot 31 closure has also put the squeeze on Garage 57, where the bulk of Bethesda Row shop, restaurant and movie-goers park.
“We are inching towards what is called demand pricing,” Berliner told the Western Montgomery Citizens Advisory Board, “higher pricing for parking that is most in demand. So what is most in demand is street parking next to our shops.”
In San Francisco, which many point to as a pioneer of demand pricing, meter pricing can range from between 25 cents an hour to a maximum of $6 an hour, all depending on the amount of cars parked in a particular stretch. The city uses sensors to gauge how many parking meters are being used and will raise the rates on busy streets to try to ensure at least one space is open.
The goal is to reduce circling and double parking that leads to traffic. Montgomery County’s goal is to get more drivers parking in its garages instead of its street-metered spaces.