GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It could soon cost more to park in certain garages in downtown Grand Rapids in the evening. A new proposal would increase parking rates at several city-owned garages near Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place.

For some downtown Grand Rapids visitors, like Tyler Buck from Kentwood, parking in a garage can be costly.

“It’s almost $30 now for like a day if you need to be down here, which is a lot just for parking,” Buck said.

On Jan. 1, most city-owned or city-operated parking ramps increased their rates to $2 per half hour. Now, another increase is being proposed, which would impact some evening rates.

“It’s a way to help us keep the pace with the increase in costs of the expenditures to run the parking system,” said Jennifer Kasper, assistant director of Mobile GR.

The rate increase is part of Grand Rapids budget discussions for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. 

If approved, flat rates will increase by $3 or $4 at the Ottawa/Fulton, Louis Campau, Monroe Center and Government Center ramps after 5 p.m. or when a booth attendant is present. The four ramps were chosen because they are located near entertainment venues.

Mobile GR and the parking department are funded through user fees and rates, not the city’s general fund.

Kasper said the additional funding would also help fix aging parking infrastructure.

“We need to continue to invest in repairs and maintenance, which includes replacing elevators, upgrading lighting,” she said.

Despite the potential increase, Kasper said city parking garages are cheaper than nearby private parking options.

“When you compare our parking rates to those of private parking operators that are in the same vicinity or within the same proximity, we are actually $5 to $15 less expensive, even with this increase,” Kasper said.

She said the city has other parking available that wouldn’t be impacted by the latest rate increase proposal.

“They can utilize our west side lots that are a flat rate of only $4 and utilize our DASH service,” Kasper said. “There’s on-street parking. So there’s lots of options.”

Josh Roskamp, a business agent for I.A.T.S.E Local 26, a labor union that represents stagehands in West Michigan, said parking rates in downtown Grand Rapids have put a serious pinch on the group’s members.

“They lose at least an hour’s wages every time they’ve got to pay to park,” Roskamp said.

Roskamp said stagehands move from venue to venue, sometimes causing them to pay to park at multiple garages in one day.

Although other garages and lots further away from entertainment venues wouldn’t be impacted by the increase, Roskamp said that for workers who often work late hours, parking far away isn’t always a viable option.

“Not only are people (too) exhausted to make that walk, they don’t feel safe doing so,” Roskamp said.

In addition to city rates, the Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention Authority is also proposing an increase in maximum daily parking rates at DeVos Place and Van Andel Arena.

I.A.T.S.E. Local 26 is now asking Grand Rapids and the Convention Arena Authority for relief.

“When I work in Detroit, I pull into the gate. I say, ‘I’m with the local stagehands.’ And the gate goes up. And when I leave, I push the button and the gate goes up, didn’t cost me any money,” Roskamp said. “If they want to compete with the big cities, they need to treat the other employees like big city employees.”

If finalized, the new evening parking rates would go into effect after July 1.