City parking meter price increase includes U area

by Robyn Repya

Students viewing a movie at the Oak Street Cinema might have to sneak out early to keep from getting towed.

That’s the concern of theater management, which says a recent increase in parking meter rates and extension of operating hours in the area could hurt business.

“This change makes it almost impossible for our patrons to come to our events without getting a ticket,” said Jenny Jones, the theater’s program manager.

The city of Minneapolis has almost finished implementing its 25 cent per hour
parking meter increase city-wide, including in Dinkytown, Stadium Village and Seven Corners. Meter operation has been extended until 10 p.m. With the increase, meters will charge 75 cents per hour.

Although the changes could increase turnover in meter usage and heighten customer traffic, not all area businesses are happy with the increases.

The meter time in Stadium Village was extended from one hour to two, but Jones said the business is still at a disadvantage.

“We rarely show films shorter than two hours,” she said.

She said it was unfair for the city to implement the increases without consulting area businesses.

“We see it as an increase in taxation without process,” she said.

Skott Johnson, the new president of the Dinkytown Business Association, said he was surprised by the change and said he thought the city should have asked the association for input.

“I think when they did it they should have informed the business association so we can tell our customers,” he said.

Johnson, owner of Autographics on Fourth Street, said people often come in asking for change for the meter after 6 p.m. and he tells them not to pay. Because he was not notified about the change, Johnson said, he’s been misinforming customers.

“Our reply after six o’clock is that you don’t have to plug the meter, but someone corrected us,” he said.

Greg Finstad, director of Minneapolis Parking and Transportation Services, said he recommended the changes because meter observation over the past year reflected high usage.

Meter parking is much less expensive than off-street parking in a ramp or lot, Finstad said. He said the rate increase was implemented in an effort to make meters more proportionate with the rates of city lots and ramps.

Finstad said meter spaces are considered “premiere” because they are directly in front of businesses.

“We’re trying to get turnover of parking meters because it’s more accessible,” he said.

The increased city revenue due to the meter change will go to the Minneapolis parking fund, which provides for services and upkeep. Any leftover money is put into the city’s general fund.

Jones said she is hopeful the city will do something to alleviate the parking strain on patrons.

She said the cinema owner has contacted Ward 2 City Council member Paul Zerby to discuss the issue in hopes of a change.

Zerby said he wants to know if city policies are adversely affecting his constituents and said he is willing to work on their behalf.

“I’d want to know how all the folks around feel about it,” he said.