TIM CHITWOOD: Taxed to park on the streets of Uptown

February 24, 2013 

Great streets of silence led away to neighborhoods of pause; here was no notice, no dissent, no universe, no laws, just Monday Mail.

Emily

Today's opening is by Emily Dickinson.

The UCPT

Speaking of streets, you've heard of the SPLOST and the LOST, and now we have the UCPT, the Uptown Columbus Parking Tax -- which unfortunately I did not consider working into a fancy acronym while making up a name for a consultant's proposing Metra Parking Management charge you $1 an hour to park on the streets downtown.

As reported in Sunday's column, that was the idea suggested during a public meeting with about 20 people Thursday night in the Government Center council chambers -- to pass a law making you pay to park by the hour on the street in the hope it will drive you into the Metra-managed parking garages.

Here's an unsigned email regarding the UCPT:

Tim,

I just read your column about the supposedly inevitable parking tax and want to thank you for bringing it to my attention. I work downtown and usually park in a parking garage but occasionally park on the street when it is more convenient when coming and going from meetings. I understand from your article that when I do park on the street I would need to pay $1 an hour even if there is ample parking? Also my daughters take ballet classes five days a week at the CSU Dance Conservatory in the Rankin building and I park in front of the building to pick up and drop off.

If the tax is passed would I have to pay $1 every time we come and go from ballet? There are ballet students who drive and park on the street while in class so I would assume they would need to pay as well. My children also attend St. Luke School and parents always park on the street to attend school functions. My overall point is that this appears to be a blatant grab for money when the city's own study showed that parking is generally adequate. Can you provide information on who can be contacted to voice concerns about this proposal?

Thank you!

Dear Reader:

I suggest people alarmed by this money-grab go straight to their city councilors about it. Otherwise Metra and Uptown Columbus may push this parking-tax ordinance to council in April and say they held a public meeting where no one thought it was a bad idea.

Another fact overlooked in this issue is the city's opening a service center off Macon Road and moving high-demand services out there. That should alleviate congestion around the Government Center, which the city's parking study showed is the only downtown area near capacity in on-street parking.

Tim Chitwood, tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.com, 706-571-8508.

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