If everything goes perfect, the city of La Crosse could be charging for parking on the streets near two schools in town.
The city’s parking utility coordinator, Jim Flottmeyer, said it could start charging $1 an hour, for a maximum of four hours, around the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and Western Technical College in 4-5 weeks.
When asked if the city was implementing the one-year program around UW-L and WTC to keep students from parking in front of private residents’ homes, Flottmeyer said that wasn’t the case.
“The beauty in this parking program is there’s not a lot of private, residential areas on those streets,” Flottmeyer said. “Most of it is multi-family and college, the university buildings.
“So, that was part of the reason we used that as a pilot program — because it didn’t interfere a substantial amount with residential properties.”
Listen to the full interview with Flottmeyer here.
That being said, the program wouldn’t affect residents in those areas, anyway, because, like the city has now, they would be exempt from paying for parking, simply by registering their vehicles.
“There are a few areas like that,” Flottmeyer said, “but it tends to be more in the areas where it is student housing, as opposed to just residential property owners.
“Up to now, I have not heard any complaints that they haven’t been able to find any place to park.”
When it comes to those places, commuters now either park for free or in a two-hour parking zone. Flottmeyer said they had students in mind when capping the paid parking to four hours.
“It was a number we decided because, when classes can be an hour, to an hour and a half, it gives them time to do a few other things,” Flottmeyer said. “So they don’t have to hurry up as much as they do with the two-hour zones.”
For those who have to stay longer than four hours, they’ll simply have to move their car across the road or around the corner and pay to park again through the smartphone app — or call an 800 number.
Tickets for those who don’t pay or who have overstayed the four hours will be $20.
For residents exempt from paying for parking, by slight chance that their block is full and they’re forced to park elsewhere, Flottmeyer made it sound like they may not have to pay.
If they park on an adjacent block and get a ticket, it could be rescinded.
“If that happens, or if you move and get a citation in that location and have a residential permit, all you have to do is appeal that citation online and we’ll be able to take a look at that and help you through that problem,” Flottmeyer said.
There is a chance that the paid street parking situation ends in a year. There’s also a chance it expands to, for example, the area around Gundersen Health System.
“I don’t see it overtaking the whole city,” Flottmeyer said. “I do see there’s areas of the city where we can use it.”
Which is what Neighborhood Associations are trying to take advantage of, discussing doing their own paid street parking programs. They would use the revenue to help pay for things like potholes, street lights or large-item garbage pickup.
As for the city’s program around UW-L and WTC, revenue generated there will go to the parking utility. Some of that money has gone to maintaining ramps. Other to repainting yellow and blue lines on city streets.
When asked, jokingly, if any of the money has been used for pee paint in the downtown ramps yet, Flottmeyer said, “No.”
Flottmeyer has been on the job for three years, arriving right after the whole conversation about using pee paint (hydrophobic paint) in the downtown ramps to deter people from, well, you know. The paint would, essentially, splatter urine back at the person. This was a thing.
When looking at implementing the paid street program, Flottmeyer said they looked to Stevens Point as an example.
Unlike La Crosse, Point does not allow overnight parking on any streets — unless you pay through an app, $3.25 — and charges $.75 an hour to park using a kiosk, similar to what’s in La Crosse’s downtown parking ramps. If Point residents pay with a credit card, it cost $1 an hour.
Those kiosks, by the way, cost La Crosse around $9,000-$10,000, Flottmeyer said. They replaced the parking gates in the ramps that cost around $450,000.
Flottmeyer was hired right in the midst of that crossover, in a completely new position for the city.
While he’s been the parking utility coordinator, along with switching from gates to kiosks in the ramps, the city:
-Implemented two-hour parking throughout downtown
-The police department took over the parking utility
-Alternate-side parking was reduced 30 days total
-The city began booting and towing cars that have five overdue parking tickets that are 60 days overdue