E.L. survey shows increase in sold parking permits


After the city conducted a survey to monitor its current parking system, it found that parking is down slightly from previous years, but the number of monthly parking permits sold is up.

East Lansing Parking Administrator Dan O’Connor said at an East Lansing City Council work session Tuesday evening the permit-only sections are oversold since all owners aren’t likely to be in the lot at the same time.

The site plan for the privately owned portions of the former City Center II property didn’t allocate for the necessary amount of parking, an issue that needs to be addressed if the project progresses.

Since parking is such a vital aspect of developments in East Lansing, Planning and Community Development Director Tim Dempsey said the Request for Proposals and Qualifications, or RFPQ, for the property might be modified to allow for a proper amount.

“We’re going to have to re-look at (the RFPQ),” Dempsey said. “In terms of parking requirements, (they) are going to change from what the plan originally proposed. … We will wait and see and come up with a plan with whatever’s reasonable (for) whatever eventually gets developed.”

Dempsey also said the highest capacity for parking lies in areas designated for daily parking, which often is used by shoppers and visitors.

This distribution actually is ideal for the city, whose focus lies on providing parking for the businesses downtown, as opposed to those with permits, Dempsey said.

“One of the things we look at is how we balance permit users from daily parking,” Dempsey said. “Our goal is to keep that balance appropriate, and (we) have to plan for peak demand. Some ramps might be empty early in the morning, but might fill up at lunch.”

The survey tracked the capacity of individual lots every 90 minutes for a weeklong period and found that Lot 12 next to the Marriott, the City Hall lot and Lot 7 on Bailey Street have some of the highest percentages used, based on both their size and information taken at 8:00 a.m. during the week of Nov. 5.

Dempsey said the results of the survey showed more availability in the daily parking regions of the city, and less in the permit-only areas.

O’Connor also said at the city council work session Tuesday evening that overall parking is down 6 percent in the city from the previous year.

He cited the emergence of taxis and MSU’s competitive presence as reasons.

“More students are parking there than (East Lansing’s) system,” O’Connor said. “Even though we are priced lower than them, students see them as a more desirable spot to park.”

Dempsey said he attributes the trend to the steady hike in gas prices and the community’s ongoing movement toward other types of transportation.

“We certainly want to make sure our community is walkable or bikeable,” Dempsey said. “In some ways, it may be more contrary to getting more (parking) in the system, but the overall benefits are better.”

Hospitality business junior Canlon Bruer said he chooses to risk getting a ticket to avoid the costs of buying a permit from the city.

“I live in a house off campus, so I don’t want to make the 20-minute walk to campus,” Bruer said.

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