A Glendale parking commissioner this week called for the city to consider reinstalling parking meters along Brand Boulevard, only weeks after the city completed a 10-year project to remove the meters and beautify the main downtown street.
The proposal was met with sharp criticism from the chairman of the city's Redevelopment Agency, who said he strongly opposes the idea.
"I have never thought of parking meters as objets d'art," said Agency Chairman Carl W. Raggio. "Intuitively, I don't like them. We just got rid of the last of the meters and this is not the right time to put them back in again."
Parking Commissioner Michael D. Moro, who also is president of the Downtown Merchants Assn., on Monday asked that city traffic engineers survey retailers, landowners and shoppers to determine whether meters on Brand would relieve parking congestion and raise funds to build added parking facilities.
Moro also asked that a new study be done on parking patterns along Brand, last studied two years ago. Moro said he and other merchants are concerned that shop employees and others are abusing the free two-hour parking limit on Brand by using space that is reserved for customers.
Kenneth Johnson, city traffic engineer, said the 1985 study found that spaces on Brand are used on the average for only one hour. However, at Moro's request, he said merchants will be surveyed and a new study conducted on the use of Brand, probably in early January.
Funds for Garages Sought
The Glendale City Council months ago asked the five-member commission to develop plans for future parking needs in the rapidly growing downtown redevelopment area. Moro said reinstalling meters is one of the alternatives.
The city is looking for ways to raise money to build new parking garages and refurbish existing ones. The redevelopment agency is building a 742-space, $6.8-million multilevel garage on Maryland Avenue between Broadway and Wilson Avenue.
More than $2.5 million has been set aside in a city parking fund, raised from net profits from 1,755 metered spaces in the city. Meter rates in February will quadruple, from 5 cents to 20 cents an hour in parking lots and from 10 cents to 40 cents an hour at street meters. Johnson said the higher rates, approved by the City Council last month, will increase profits by more than $600,000 a year. Johnson said parking garages cost from $8,000 to $10,000 a space to build.
Saying they lacked sufficient information, the parking commission in September recommended that the council postpone a rate increase. However, council members chastised commissioners for their inaction and approved the rate increase anyway.
Merchants and their employees have complained that quadrupling rates in downtown parking lots will make parking too expensive for shop workers. "We are competing for a labor market," Moro said. "People don't make that much money working in these stores. We need to help them."
Moro proposes that meters be reinstalled along Brand where an hourly 50-cent fee could be charged. In turn, he has asked that current low rates be retained on back-lot, 10-hour meters used by downtown employees.
Raggio, however, said installation of meters along the thoroughfare "would cheapen the quality look" of the wide brick and terrazzo sidewalks.