Dashing to the curb to add an extra quarter to your meter in Minneapolis may not do the trick these days.
Minneapolis officials are raising the cost of parking on the street in many spots, among a series of changes designed to keep meter parking competitive and prevent motorists from hogging spaces.
The new meter rates vary from block to block. New rates were first introduced in Dinkytown and Stadium Village last Saturday. Next up are the North Loop and Warehouse District, where new rates will be in effect July 16.
On 1st Avenue N., the rates will go from $1.50 an hour to $3 an hour. Meter prices on Washington Avenue in the North Loop will increase even more, from 75 cents to $2 an hour.
Rates in other parts of the city won't change at all. It all depends on how busy the area has been.
"If we see surface lots and other off-street parking that's cheaper than on-street parking, we will tend to lower rates, too," said Tim Drew, the city's parking system manager.
Downtown parking has become increasingly competitive as ramps and surface lots are replaced by new buildings. Drew said the new meter pricing model is being determined by studies that examine Minneapolis parking habits on a small-scale level.
"The rule-of-thumb ideal is you want approximately one space per block available, so that you always have the opportunity to park on the street," said David King, professor of urban planning at Arizona State University. Prices should be adjusted accordingly, he said.
Drew said the city monitored its 8,200 metered spots to decide where prices needed to be raised or lowered. He also met with local neighborhood leaders and business owners to discuss the changes before implementing them.
Another goal of the initiative is simplification, he said. The city is shrinking the number of rates and codes — which regulate the hours and days patrons are required to use the meters. The new meters will only charge rates of 50 cents, $1, $2 or $3.
"All of this can get a little confusing," he said. "Hopefully, the changes help."
On 4th Street SE. in Dinkytown, where meter rates increased from $1.25 an hour to $2 an hour, Daniel Perfetti slammed the parking pay station with frustration Friday afternoon.
"These were just 15 minutes a quarter a few days ago. Now it's eight," he said. "Why don't they tell anybody?"
Perfetti was there to wash windows for some of the local businesses. He returned every two hours to add more change to the meter.
"They're taking advantage of people because they have nowhere else to park," he said. "It's a rip-off."
A few spots down, Daniel Kaiyalethe parked to eat at Shuang Cheng, one of his favorite lunch spots for almost 40 years. He wishes the restaurant could offer free parking, but doesn't mind the meter prices too much.
"We put a couple of dollars in," he said. "It's not that bad."
Some Minneapolis retailers are welcoming the price hikes in the hopes they discourage commuters and event-goers from filling the spots in front of their businesses.
"It's gotten worse and worse every year to find parking spots," said Dana Swindler, CEO of Martin Patrick 3 in the North Loop. "If this helps us keep our parking available for customers, it's good for the retailers."
More parking patrol
In theory, fans going to Twins games shouldn't be able to park at the two-hour-limited meters in front of Martin Patrick 3.
However, the MPLS Parking App, which debuted in 2015, allows customers to add time to their meters by the click of a button.
"People just don't move their cars," said Tim Bildsoe, president of the North Loop Neighborhood Association. "Even if there's a limit."
Drew said 43 percent of people using the city's meters pay with the app nowadays. To combat those violating the city's time restrictions, he said officials are testing license plate recognition technology, which would use a camera on patrol cars to identify cars that have been in the same spot for too long.
"Before, you used to see agents chalking tires," he said. But people thwarted that by moving the car slightly in the space, to make it look as if they had just arrived.
That's a violation that could merit a $45 citation. "It's called feeding the meter, and that's illegal in the city of Minneapolis," Drew said.
After the North Loop, the city will introduce new rates to meters in the Old St. Anthony neighborhood and Uptown, and eventually in the downtown and Lake Street areas.