Attendees of the Flagstaff First Friday ArtWalk will be some of the first to experience the newest addition to downtown Flagstaff: functioning parking meters.
The city’s paid parking system turns on Friday morning, and downtown visitors will be expected to use the parking kiosks or the mobile app to pay for parking downtown. The cost is $1 per hour, and in order to use the kiosks or the app, a person must know the car’s license plate number.
Friday will begin the program’s “initial rollout period,” where those who fail to correctly use the paid parking system will receive warnings instead of fines. However, interim parking manager Karl Eberhard said those who are “repeatedly taking advantage of not paying” will receive tickets, even during the rollout period.
Eberhard said there is not a determined number of how many warnings a person will receive before receiving a ticket, but said the rollout “is not a free-for-all period, it’s a time for people to learn the system without being punished for making a mistake.”
Paid parking will be in effect between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.
The parking system, which was originally scheduled to begin in March, has been in the works for about three years, Eberhard said. The city originally developed the concept about eight years ago, then revived the discussion five years ago, Eberhard said. The difference this year, he said, was the amount of time spent getting shareholder input and making sure shareholders, including businesses, the city, the county and citizens were on the same page about the program.
For downtown employees who have requested an employee permit, usernames and passwords were emailed out Thursday night, and Eberhard said employees who have not had a chance to log in and register their cars by Friday will not receive a ticket until “the vast majority” of permit holders have accessed their accounts. Employee permits cost $45 per month. Multiple cars can be registered under a single permit, but only one car can use the permit to park at one time.
This weekend, Eberhard said he and his staff, as well as members of the Flagstaff Downtown Business Alliance will be downtown helping people use the kiosks and answer questions about the system. Several businesses downtown have also signed up to be part of the “parking angels” program, and will take $1 off a customer’s purchase total if they mention they paid to park downtown.
Customers can pay for parking using a credit card at the kiosks downtown or use the mobile app, called “Whoosh!” to pay for parking. The app charges 35 cents per transaction. Customers who wish to pay with cash can go to the Visitors Center, the customer service desk at City Hall or the kiosk on the steps of City hall to pay with cash.
The lot west of City Hall, the parking lot at Wheeler Park and the lot at the Coconino County Administrative building will offer free parking after 5 p.m. and one weekends once the program begins, Eberhard said.
The program was designed to be self-sustaining, as well as raise money to eventually build a parking garage, Eberhard said. The city paid for the initial investment in the parking meters, which ParkFlag will repay as revenues begin to collect. Eberhard said the formula was based on the projection of $1 million in annual revenue and $650,000 in annual expenses. However, it is unknown how much revenue will actually be collected by the program, so Eberhard said 20 percent of the revenue each year will be set aside to build or buy more parking spaces.
Eberhard said residents who are interested in opting into the residential permit system are welcome to begin collecting signatures and submitting documents for the residential system, which he said will begin after the launch of the downtown metered system.