The cost of forgetting to feed the meter in New Orleans is going up by 50 percent.
The City Council on Thursday unanimously signed off on a plan to hike parking fines from $20 to $30 and more than double the cost for film companies to rent metered spaces while using city streets.
The proposal was part of a compromise that dropped a proposal by Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration to keep parking meters active into the late evening hours in return for higher fines for violators and increased fees for companies that rent metered spaces for a day or more.
Combined with higher meter rates and slightly longer hours implemented last month, the changes approved Thursday are expected to bring about $600,000 more into city coffers than the administration’s original proposal.
Workers and owners of Central Business District and French Quarter bars fought the initial proposal, saying the workers depend on free on-street parking at night, and supported some of the ideas eventually included in the compromise.
However, Nick Detrich, owner of Cane and Table in the French Quarter, said Thursday the city should have done more to expand public transit service — reducing the need for workers to drive into the Quarter and CBD — before making any changes.
“We’re a little disappointed that no one in the administration was concerned with expanding (the Regional Transit Authority) before restricting parking,” Detrich said, though he acknowledged that the additional hours of service the agency is planning to add to some bus routes could help.
Under the ordinances approved Thursday, most parking infractions will cost a driver $10 more, with the initial cost of a ticket rising from $20 to $30. After a month of nonpayment, that cost will increase to $60; after two months, to $90 — up from $40 and $80, respectively, at present.
Film companies and others would pay $70 a day to rent metered spaces in and near the CBD and French Quarter, and $30 elsewhere in the city. The rates now are $30 in the CBD, $40 in and near the French Quarter and $20 elsewhere.
The $45 fixed fee companies pay in addition to the daily rate will remain unchanged. So will parking fines that are typically steeper than the ordinary $20 ticket, such as for parking large vehicles in residential areas.
Drivers with disabilities will continue to be able to park in metered spaces for free.
The changes will be effective as soon as they can be implemented, officials said.
The Landrieu administration originally proposed hiking meter rates from the old $1.50 per hour anywhere in the city to $3 an hour in the Quarter and CBD and $2 an hour elsewhere in the city. The plan also called for extending the period motorists were required to feed the meters, cutting it off at 10 p.m. instead of 6 p.m.
Council members and representatives of the service industry pushed back against that plan. In negotiations with the administration, they worked out a plan to keep the higher rates but extend the hours only until 7 p.m., making up the loss of revenue with the higher fines and rental fees.
The original proposal was expected to generate about $4.3 million, with about $1 million of that going to hire more staff to enforce the rules. Under the compromise, the city is expected to take in about $4.9 million, with $1 million still expected to pay for enforcement.
Detrich said he and others opposed to the original plan continue to be concerned about the effects of higher rates on workers and will keep pushing for improvements to RTA service.
“We do plan to stay active in making sure there’s a voice for service industry people downtown and in New Orleans,” Detrich said. “It’s basically to make sure that it continues to be reasonable for people to get to and from work.”