Proposal for parking meters in West Campus is being considered

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Representative for University Area Partners Brian Donovan leads a discussion about the placement of parking meters at the West Campus parking event on Thursday night. The proposal was put forth because members of the community saw parking in West Campus as a problem.

Photo Credit: Sa Wang | Daily Texan Staff

West Campus residents, business representatives and community leaders are still considering a plan that could put a price on parking in the area as early as next year.

A proposal to introduce a Parking Benefit District was put forth after members of the community raised concerns about parking in West Campus, said Mike McHone, vice president of University Area Partners, a group made up of organizational stakeholders in the West Campus area. If the proposal is approved by City Council, approximately 400 parking meters would be added to the area between Guadalupe St. and Rio Grande St.

Residents and business owners attended a meeting Thursday night to express their approval and concern over the proposal to add the meters. UAP members plan to revise their proposal based on input gathered during the meeting and will present the updated proposal to other residents of the West Campus neighborhood. The proposal will then be submitted to the City’s Transportation Department, where it’s scheduled for review by the Urban Transportation Commission. City council members will receive the proposal following its review by commission members and will vote next fall on whether or not it will go into affect.

McHone said the primary goal of the meeting was to answer any questions and let people know the long and exhaustive process that has gone into this plan.

“This plan has been the result of a two year effort on UAP’s part,” McHone said. “We have been trying to work with students since this came up.”

McHone said the meters would help ensure there is not an out of control parking situation in West Campus.

“If the meters are put in there, the parking situation will be better and traffic control will be enforced,” McHone said. “If people have to pay for parking they will realize the cost of car equity.”

Urban studies senior John Lawler is a member of the Central Austin Neighborhood Planning Advisory Committee, which represents neighborhoods where many UT students live. Lawler said he is not in support of the meters, and he said the city is placing this burden on students because they are trying to find alternative sources of funding. Lawler has opposed the idea of parking meters in West Campus since the proposal to implement them was approved by City Council members in October.

“If they do end up succeeding we need to make it clear that parking meters will not cut it,” Lawler said. “I can’t see parking meters as a solution for the situation.”

The proposal states 51 percent of the parking meter revenue will be allocated for neighborhood improvement projects. However, Lawler said the program would provide minimal financial benefits.

“One of the ideas that was thrown around instead was to create a special taxing zone to try and get it reinvested in the area,” Lawler said. “What we really need to do though is really advocate in the next bond election for the funds directly.”

Brian Donovan, representative for UAP at the event, said he is in favor of adding the parking meters because he said it will create a higher turnover of parking in the area.

“You can’t park with the way it works now,” Donovan said. “Right now there are about 900 parking spots, and if you find one you are probably less likely to leave.”

Printed on Friday, April 13, 2012 as: Possible parking meters to be added to West Campus area