State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Rate Hike for Downtown State College Parking

by on June 18, 2013 6:00 AM

Parking in downtown State College is going to cost you more money. Until now, parking on the street after 6 p.m. was free. But starting in August, you'll have to feed the meters between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. Rates in the garages are being increased. The State College Borough Council voted to change the downtown parking ordinance Monday night. Downtown State College Improvement District Director George Arnold says the changes are an effort to free up parking spaces for residents. 

POLL: State College Parking

What do you think of the new charges to park in downtown State College?

I don't mind feeding the meter after 6 p.m. if it will make it easier to park.
This will drive people away from the downtown.
It doesn't matter one way or the other.

Changes to the downtown parking scene will include changes to the following: 

  • Garage hourly rates: Between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., the first half hour is free. It's 50 cents for each subsequent half hour. That means you'll be paying $1 an hour, up from 75 cents. Between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. it will cost 50 cents an hour to park in a garage. 
  • On-street meters will be enforced between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. Borough lots – the McAllister Parking Deck, Beaver Avenue lot and the Allen Street lot – will operate on the same schedule. After 5 p.m., the time limit at the meters is extended to three hours, up from 90 minutes. 
  • A night time garage pass will cost $25 a month and access is allowed between 4 p.m. and 4 a.m.
  • Fines will remain the same. But repeat offenders and scofflaws will pay higher rates, depending on the number of tickets a motorist accumulates in one year and how long a ticket goes unpaid.
  • Sunday parking will remain free throughout the downtown.

The changes do not apply on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. 

Arnold says the changes are a result of nearly a year's worth of looking into how the downtown could free up parking on the street for patrons to local businesses, provide more affordable parking options for evening employees and make parking more user-friendly. A major issue has been students and employees who work downtown at night taking up the parking spots on the street and restricting local residents who might want to go to out to dinner or to do some shopping. 

"This started with retailers saying there are not enough places to park in the street," Arnold says. "We put this program together with the public in mind. They come downtown, they drive around for a while and can't find a spot and they're frustrated, so they go home."

So, the DSCID had to find a way to free up spots with an end goal of keeping spots changing over more consistently throughout the evening. 

Some members of the council did not want to vote to adopt the ordinance changes right way, but a vote to move the vote until after a public hearing could be held failed. 

"I'm not saying the students are to blame here ... there is an impact on the economy downtown if the students take up parking spots," council member Ron Filippelli said. "We're trying to change parking ... for business people to come in and shop downtown." 

Council member Peter Morris said he wanted to see some more data before moving ahead, but council members Tom Daubert and James Rosenberger said they wanted to move forward with the ordinance. Last week, Arnold presented the changes, along with data Borough Parking Manager Charles DeBow collected over time. 

DeBow says they used a high-tech monitoring system on College Avenue to see when vehicles arrived and how long they stayed. The data showed a dramatic increase in the length of time one vehicle would occupy a certain spot. Between 6-7 p.m., DeBow says, the data showed occupancy of parking spots rose to nearly 99 percent, with almost no turnover through the night. 

Council members voted to approve an amendment to the ordinance that requires data be collected through the winter and be presented to council in winter 2014.

Laura Nichols is a news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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