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Learning About ParkFlag

ParkFlag is in the business of managing downtown and Southside’s limited parking resources and developing our parking supply. With the need expanded as a result of increased spill-over parking in the Southside, the implementation of a comprehensive parking management plan ends a nearly 25 year debate about how to solve the parking issues in downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods. Created as a “special revenue fund,” the program, as developed by city staff with a broad group of stakeholders, is intended to be effective, but also be financially self-sufficient.

The financial engine of Flagstaff’s parking management is the introduction of pay-to-park areas – metered parking. Pay-to-park is based on the principles that parking is never really free – someone is always paying for it; that costs change transportation and parking habits; and that convenient parking attracts customers. The revenues from the pay-to-park subsidizes permit parking for downtown employees and residential areas around the downtown. Consistent enforcement at an appropriate level is a foundation of effective parking management and that, too, is funded by the pay-to-park revenues.

The development of ParkFlag started from a pro forma that anticipated revenues and expenses and projected the outcome. Revenue projections were based on a parking study commissioned by the city that included a detailed inventory of resources and demand, case studies and recommendations for occupancy estimates and pricing. Expenses included typical approximations of needed equipment, physical facilities and services. The system is centered on 106 point-of-sale systems coupled with a website and a mobile app.

Simply placing meters and signs and expecting effective management is insufficient. Success in managing resources and financial success toward adding to our parking supply is dependent on customer service. On one level, the system needs administration to assist customers in getting acquainted with the new requirements, setting up and operating the various components, planning and ongoing adaptations, and being accountable to the stakeholders. The business includes cashiers, accounting and other management and customer support services. And, the on-the-street staff provides customer assistance and the foundational enforcement.

Day-to-day management is provided by the Parking Manager. However, the manager is supported by the team of stakeholders that helped shape the parking management plan and the business plan. This team includes city and county advisors, representatives of employers and other groups impacting or impacted by the changes in parking management. The ability to adapt is dependent on the stakeholder team as much as it is a direct result of the City Council’s wisdom in approving a more nimble and flexible management strategy.

The management plan includes some demand reduction components – such as the inclusion of a free EcoPASS program. The future may include more such strategies such as park-n-rides and maybe even strategies that haven’t been thought of or invented yet.

Ultimately, the ordinance requires that no less than 20 percent of the gross receipts be set aside for acquisition of parking. The Pro Forma anticipates a greater number. Early results, with ParkFlag having been operating for about three weeks, show that these goals will be exceeded. All funds, even over and above the 20 percent, will only be available for eligible parking related uses. Delivering an effective program and the creation of new parking will be the priority as funds become available.

A COUPLE OF NOTES:

  • As an informational item, when using the Whoosh app, there is one pin that represents the whole parking program for the City of Flagstaff. That pin is always the same when the app requests you to select a pin.
  • City and county lots are available for free parking after business hours and on the weekend if no special events are planned.

Any questions on parking, please email parkflag@flagstaffaz.gov or call 928-213-2960. FBN

 

By Karl Eberhard, Interim Parking Manager, City of Flagstaff

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