GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Haven City Council is weighing whether to add seasonal paid parking to the downtown district, asking tourists to foot some of the bill instead of leaving maintenance costs only to city residents.
City Manager Pat McGinnis laid out the plan this week during a city council meeting to charge $1 per hour and $2 per hour at the City Beach lot. The plan would include a mobile application that drivers can use, as well as kiosks placed periodically across downtown.
According to a memo from McGinnis, the parking program would cost $300,000 to implement, but should be covered by collected costs within the first year and be a positive revenue system for the city going forward. Once the installation costs are covered, the revenue would be split 50-50, with half going to cover maintenance for city lots and the other half for adding more parking spaces.
McGinnis noted the maintenance fund is already there, but it is paid by local tax dollars. He called the seasonal paid parking program a positive revenue system for the city.
If passed, the paid parking season would run from May 1 through Sept. 30, with fees in effect from 9 a.m. through 9 p.m. Monthly passes would be sold at $100 per month.
Several business owners voiced their concerns during the city council meeting, saying they were afraid parking fees would scare off customers. The plan, developed by a special committee, would allow 15-minute free parking for customers making quick stops and would not charge for street parking on Harbor Drive near the Grand Haven State Park.
The Paid Parking Committee was established in 2019 and their plan was approved by the city’s Downtown Development Authority but put on hold when the COVID-19 pandemic started. No official vote has been held or scheduled, but McGinnis told News 8 that the paid parking program is tentatively built into the 2023 budget plan.
As part of its research, the committee looked at three other Michigan coastal cities to compare their parking regulations: South Haven, St. Joseph and Petoskey.
SOUTH HAVEN COMPARISON
Parking is free in downtown South Haven with a 3-hour limit. However, the city has had a hard time enforcing the policy because chalk marking, a common practice some law enforcement agencies use, has made its way to federal court, calling chalk marking a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
To try to ease parking issues at the beach, the city of South Haven offers two free parking tags to property owners within the city, The city also offers a shuttle on Saturdays and Sundays, allowing people to park at South Haven High School and ride to the beach.
ST. JOSEPH COMPARISON
The city of St. Joseph does not charge for street parking but does charge for parking at three beach lots. City residents get free parking passes. According to the Grand Haven committee’s study, St. Joseph collected $294,000 in parking fees in 2018.
Like Grand Haven, the St. Joseph City Commission is also considering expanding seasonal paid parking to the rest of the downtown area, hoping to ease the parking crunch and generate more funds that can be put back into downtown upgrades.
The city of Petoskey’s parking program is similar to the one in the city of Grand Rapids. It is implemented year-round and certain parking lots cost more, ranging from 25 cents to $1 per hour.
Parking rates were doubled in 2019. The city of Petoskey estimated they collected between $600,000 and $700,000 in parking fees that year.