NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Some locals hope to bring enough pressure on Mayor Mitch Landrieu to keep parking meter rates from going up early next year as is planned. The idea of paying more to avoid parking tickets on city streets rubs many the wrong way.
"If you're already spending say, $10, $15 a day on parking alone, that's going to double up. Wages in this area have not gone up, they're not commensurate with this increase," said Chris Lane with N.O. Citizens for Fair Parking.
Weeks ago, Landrieu proposed raising parking meter rates citywide. Administration Press Secretary Hayne Rainey sent the following in an email Wednesday afternoon:
"The city has proposed to increase the parking meter rates to $3 per hour in the French Quarter, Central Business District and Warehouse District, and $2 per hour for areas outside of downtown. The proposal sets competitive pricing for short-term parking to better manage the City's limited number of curbside spaces, which is consistent with best practices and expert advice that parking meter rates should be priced based on market forces. Using fair market pricing for short-term on street parking helps to decrease congestion and increase the accessibility of convenient short-term parking for businesses, customers and residents. This parking meter rate adjustment will begin early next year,"
Meter hours would also stretch until 10 p.m.
Lane is a film technician who also works at other jobs in the French Quarter. He has spearheaded the opposition, which includes a Facebook page and petition drive. He said more than 1,000 have signed the petition against the meter rate hike that could become effective without City Council approval. In addition to the cost, Lane thinks there is a safety issue tied to longer meter hours.
"The safety of just leaving, like, in the middle of the night to go plug a meter - they want to extend the hours until 10 o'clock at night," he said.
And some restaurants in the city said increasing the parking meter rates will be bad for business on many fronts.
"It's already very difficult in the city to find the right kind of talent to staff the restaurant, and adding these sorts of hurdles monetarily - especially to working in the French Quarter - is definitely going to inhibit our basically ability to hire the right people to continue to maintain this tradition of a dining culture in the French Quarter," said Nick Detrich, owner of Cane and Table Restaurant on Decatur Street. "If you're going to inhibit our ability to generate tax revenue, you're going to hurt the city long-term."
District C City Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey represents the French Quarter and is opposed to the parking meter rate increase. She said she continues to have dialogue with Landrieu about possible alternatives.
"Where pressure is being applied will hopefully maybe just open up a conversation. I'd love to see it deferred so that we can have more concrete parking studies done," Detrich said.