As previously announced, parking meter rates in the Central Business District, French Quarter, Marigny and Warehouse District will double, from $1.50 an hour to $3 an hour, and elsewhere in the city they will rise from $1.50 to $2 an hour, under a revised plan city officials announced Wednesday. But rather than extend meter collection times until 10 p.m., as Mayor Mitch Landrieu initially planned, the meter hours will be extended only one hour, until 7 p.m.
The meters now collect payment from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Meanwhile, the New Orleans City Council is pledging to increase parking ticket violation fines from $20 to $30.
The meters will continue to collect payments Monday through Saturday.
The new rates will be effective Jan. 11.
Wednesday’s compromise seemed to indicate that Landrieu, to an extent, heeded critics who said hiking rates and extending hours would hurt low-income workers who use the meters to park near their jobs.
A majority of council members and numerous activists decried the original proposal, even as city officials said it would help to free up many of the coveted 3,179 metered parking spaces in and near the CBD and French Quarter more frequently.
The Mayor’s Office portrayed the original plan more as a way to ensure turnover of available spaces than as a revenue generator, though it was expected to bring in an extra $4.3 million a year.
The new plan should still generate that same amount, Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin said Wednesday. Any revenue lost by forgoing meter payments after 7 p.m. should be offset by the higher parking violation fines, he said.
“The best way to maintain the balance of on-street parking is to price it appropriate to demand,” Kopplin said. Even with the price hikes, the city’s meters are still competitive with prices at commercial parking lots, he added.
Kopplin said the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority also is planning to expand bus hours by the spring, which will make more public transportation options available for workers who now drive their cars to jobs in the French Quarter, CBD and nearby areas. The RTA will hold public hearings in January and February about expanding transit service hours on routes serving the Quarter and CBD. RTA officials last month floated the idea of 24-hour service on some major routes.
About $1 million of the $4.3 million in expected new revenue is still set to go to increased parking enforcement. That will pay for 20 additional officers who can better enforce parking restrictions in residential permit parking zones, a move some residents have loudly called for, Kopplin said.
Residential permit zones limit parking for visitors but not for residents with special permits.
Two activists who had called for higher parking ticket fees in lieu of meter hikes said Wednesday they had not had a chance to review the new compromise. The two — Mark Schletter, president of the New Orleans chapter of the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild, and Chris Lane, of New Orleans Citizens for Fair Parking — said they plan to release a joint statement later. However, Stan Harris, of the Louisiana Restaurant Association, said the compromise balanced the needs of hospitality workers and the city.
One of those who had called for higher fines for violators was Councilwoman Susan Guidry, who praised Wednesday’s announcement along with Councilman Jared Brossett. The council is expected to approve the higher fines in January.
The mayor can implement the higher meter rates without council action.
Follow Jessica Williams on Twitter, @jwilliamsNOLA.