An initiative for a mobile parking management pilot program on the east side of Dublin's Bridge Street District seems to have stalled.
Dublin City Council members Sept. 9 voted 3-2 to move forward with the program, with John Reiner, Michael Keenan and Christina Alutto voting in favor of the motion and Jane Fox and Cathy De Rosa voting against it.
Mayor Greg Peterson and Vice Mayor Chris Amorose Groomes did not attend the meeting.
The motion failed, because four "yes" votes were required to carry the motion because only five members were present.
Dublin initiated a parking management study in 2016 with the new development that was occurring in the downtown Dublin area and the need to better manage new parking inventory, said Lindsay Weisenauer, a Dublin public affairs officer.
After hearing the results of a downtown Dublin parking study in September of last year, council authorized city staff members to proceed with issuing a request for proposals to find a technology partner for a mobile-only parking management system pilot program in the downtown area, she said.
The pilot was proposed Sept. 9, but after the council vote, the initiative now is on hold, Weisenauer said.
"Staff will take the feedback from City Council and use it to regroup," Weisenauer said.
"At this time, there is no timeline for when staff will return to council with a proposal."
The original proposal was for the city to work with ParkMobile, an on-street reservation-and-event-parking-app developer during the pilot, according to a Sept. 3 memo to council members.
The nine-month pilot program would have covered on-street spaces on Riverside Drive, Longshore Street (from Tuller Ridge Drive to Banker Drive) and Bridge Park Avenue, according to the memo.
Pricing was recommended at $1 per hour from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a two-hour time limit and $2 per hour with no time limit from 5 to 9 p.m.
Handicapped parking spots and loading zones would have been free.
Alutto, who is chairwoman of council's public services committee that recommended the pilot program, said the mobile-parking pilot was introduced as a way to help curbside parking spaces turn over multiple times throughout the day.
The city has heard complaints from businesses in the Bridge Street District that residents, employees and construction vehicles are parking in on-street parking spaces all day, Alutto said.
Residents, she said, are able to park for free in parking garages in the district.
The parking app, she said, would be an alternative to on-foot police enforcement in providing an opportunity for people to change their behavior.
"This isn't intended to be punitive in any way," Alutto said.
The reason for the pilot, she said, would be to ensure the program would be the right choice for the area.
"If it's not working for our business owners, we shouldn't do it," Alutto said.
Reiner, who also sits on the public devices committee, said because the program would be a study, "it's not a fixed-in-stone deal by any measure."
Reiner said he would have liked to have seen the pilot get passed to experiment with parking solutions.
"We can't have the police down there 24-7 supervising parking," he said.
Like Reiner and Alutto, Fox sits on the committee.
She said she respects staff members' interest in parking concerns and wants to work toward a solution, but the pilot program is a bit premature.
While a parking app would be useful in a large city with parking scarcity, Dublin is a smaller city with available parking, she said.
Fox said she was concerned with the potential burden downloading an app would be to populations such as the elderly or tourists.
"I think this is an unnecessary inconvenience," she said.
Although De Rosa commended city staff members for their proactive way of approaching traffic and parking issues, she said timing and value were her two concerns with the pilot program.
"I just think it's premature to ask patrons to pay to park along the street because the development is still very much under development," De Rosa said.
A year from now, when construction is further along, timing could make more sense, she said.
More than ample free parking exists in the district, De Rosa said, including taxpayer-funded free parking garages.
De Rosa said residents and visitors have told her how much they appreciate free parking in Dublin.
"That is a big differentiator" for businesses and customers, she said.
"I just don't think we want to give that up at this point. I think it's just too early."
Two business owners in the Bridge Park East area also expressed concerns over the pilot program.
Lynette Higginbotham owns Madison House Designs, 6605 Longshore Street. The location has been open for a little longer than a year, she said.
As an event florist, Higginbotham said she doesn't rely on walk-in customers and typically does scheduled consultations with her clients.
In the last few months or so the Bridge Street District has become much more heavily trafficked and clients sometimes tell her they have a hard time finding parking, she said.
Still, Higginbotham said she thinks her clients likely would be annoyed with an app requiring them to pay for parking.
She said she would be strongly opposed to such a model.
Jeff Tsao, owner of Fukuryu Ramen Dublin, 4540 Bridge Park Avenue, holds a similar opinion.
Tsao said curbside parking hasn't been a problem for his customers.
Once construction in the area is done, he said he believes much of the congestion will go away and a parking garage is very close to his business.
For now, construction workers leave before dinner, which Tsao said is the prime time for his business. He said there is no construction activity on weekends.
A pay for parking model would be "over the top," especially for Dublin, Tsao said.
"I don't think it's necessary," he said.
Bridge Park developer Crawford Hoying director of development experience Ted Orrdeclined to comment, citing that the pilot parking program was a city initiative.