Common Council approves plan to change metered parking rates depending on demand

MILWAUKEE -- Surge pricing will change the way you park and pay in Milwaukee. The rate for parking will change depending on the demand. If it's busy, you'll pay more, and if it's slow, you'll pay less.

"No! That's nuts!" said Monique Gamache.

On Wednesday, Sept. 26, the Milwaukee Common Council voted 9-5 to approve "right-size" metered rates and times.

"That's really uncool to people who live here, but also to visitors," said Gamache.

Currently, hourly meter rates are $1.50, $1 and $.50 -- rates that will increase to $2, $1.25 and $.75. Parking hours will also increase from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. Saturdays will also be metered.

Mayor Tom Barrett

"We are looking at -- looking at what the demand actually is for parking," said Mayor Tom Barrett.

Mayor Barrett said he supports the move, saying rates will fluctuate according to demand -- going up during peak times, like during Milwaukee Bucks' games, and down when it's slower.

"If, of course, there will be tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people downtown, then that puts a premium on the parking spots," said Barrett.

The plan could generate an additional $1.9 million. Alderman Tony Zielinski, who is running for mayor, voted against this plan. He said that cash could really just be a Trojan horse for future streetcar funding.

"They are going to need to find additional revenue. It's almost guaranteed. They are going to have to go into the city parking fund for funding," said Zielinski.

Mayor Barrett signed the legislation Thursday, Oct. 4, according to a statement from Zielinski:

"Today Mayor Tom Barrett quietly signed two legislative files related to parking meter fees that were approved by the Common Council over my strong objections on September 25.

The first file increases the amount of time the city can charge for parking at meters. By ordinance this means that now instead of there being no limitations on parking at meters from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., that period now starts at midnight and goes to 7 a.m.

For someone shopping, eating at a restaurant or attending a game or performance downtown or in the Historic Third Ward, this means they’ll need to make sure to plug those meters to cover that period from 7 p.m. to midnight!

The second ordinance approved by the Council and signed today by the Mayor authorizes the commissioner of public works to set parking meter rates between $0.25 and $5 per hour, and between $5 and $50 for event parking. This has been called “surge pricing” and hits low-income and average citizens hard when they come downtown and need to park for an event or an appointment. For many of them it will result in additional parking tickets and parking tickets that will come with an even steeper price tag. These people are already paying too much for parking and now the Council and the Mayor are hitting them again and hard just for coming to visit the downtown area.

These parking changes are projected by the Mayor to bring in an additional $1.9 million in 2019 (so he’s already counting the money).

The Mayor had an option on these fee increases – he could have vetoed the Council’s actions. He chose not to do so and average citizens in Milwaukee will be paying the (premium) parking price for years to come."

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