Now that the parking meters along Main Street in Uptown are in place, the Sedona City Council had one additional task — approve the amount that will be charged. Council unanimously approved a fee structure during its Tuesday, June 27, meeting.
The work group recommended an initial fee structure, which received approval from council. The first 15 minutes is free, then the first three hours will be $2 each with $4 for the fourth hour and $6 for the fifth.
But, in order to have the flexibility and authority to modify rates up or down based on the demand model, council also approved an hourly rate of $1 to $4 for each of the first three hours, $2 to $8 for the fourth hour and $4 to $12 for the fifth hour. Rates will be adjusted with the above ranges based upon occupancy and demand, a city report states.
If on-street occupancy is found to be over 90 percent, rates will be adjusted upward. If occupancy is lower than 80 percent, rates will be adjusted downward. The target occupancy is 85 percent.
In order to develop this program, the city has been working with the Uptown Paid Parking Implementation work group. This group includes merchants and property owners, the Sedona Chamber of Commerce, the Uptown Rangers and representatives from the city.
Following 18 months of discussion and planning, the 101 paid parking spaces on Main Street became operational as of Wednesday, June 28.
Parking along Main Street will be free from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. every day of the week. However, these hours are subject to change for special events.
And, once the program has been in place, demand will dictate if the hours for free parking need to be expanded or decreased, Assistant City Manager Karen Osburn said.
The 13 Luke II pay stations work like an ATM. Patrons will type in their license plate and follow the step-by-step instructions on the screen. Or, they can pay by phone using the PassportParking app. In addition to the pay stations, new signage will be installed not only to alert motorists of the paid parking but those directing them to the hundreds of free parking spaces at eight locations off Main Street.
Now that meters are now operational, Osburn assured the council that it doesn’t mean that the committee or staff will no longer be active as time goes on.
“This engagement does not end when we go live,” she said. “We have the Rangers heavily involved, the CSAs [community service aides] and we have already started to schedule debriefs with them in 10 days to two weeks of implementation and will continue to do that. If we’re hearing things from the boots on the ground — who are engaging with the customers — that there is a problem, we will then address it.”
Councilman John Currivan said he had some concerns about the fee structure and recommended that they start on the low end of the pay scale while all the kinks are worked out.
“Why not start on the safe side and start at $1, and if it turns out that doesn’t do it and we’re still getting 95 percent occupancy, then you go to $2,” he said. “But if you do it the other way and go to $2 and you’re ending up at 75 percent or less, this is actually hurting the merchants — using them kind of as guinea pigs.”
It was pointed out by City Attorney Robert Pickels that the authority to delegate the mechanics of the rate structure was given to City Manager Justin Clifton by council. Based on the recommendation of the committee, Clifton said he feels that $2 an hour to start is appropriate. But if that doesn’t seem to work, the pay scale can be modified.
Councilman Joe Vernier said he believes Currivan had some valid points but in the end, felt council should go with the recommendations.
“This has been thoroughly vetted by the staff and the city manager’s office,” he said. “It’s being implemented in a way that the intent is to help the merchants in Uptown. I have confidence in our city officials to do what’s right and we always have the right and the authority as council to take things into our own hands if it become a significant issue.”