Major updates, cost increase coming to parking in Cleveland

By Nicholas Hunter

According to a plan released by the City Council, Cleveland will soon be seeing a massive overhaul to meter parking, starting in several neighborhoods before it is launched citywide.

Earlier this year, Cleveland City Council released a plan proposed last year by local design firm Desmen Design Management, detailing a two-phase, $3.66 million dollar project that would completely overhaul street parking and event parking across the city.

Initially not released by the city, the plan was made public on Cleveland City Council’s website July 15, 2021.

It is unclear why the proposal’s release was delayed by over a year. Neither the city nor council has responded to requests for comment on the subject.

Desmen has worked with other big midwestern cities, including Detroit, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Columbus, Ohio, to overhaul city parking. In the proposal, they provide a chart showing the parking hours and rates for cities they’ve done consulting and/or planning work in.

The proposal suggests three key changes to parking in Cleveland: First, the familiar, coin-operated single meters would be replaced by “Multi-Space Credit Card Enabled Pay Station Kiosks,” with each kiosk replacing eight meters.

These kiosks let you pay for parking with a credit card and, rather than a timer, use Automatic License Plate Recognition (or ALPR) technology to track your license plate and figure out when you leave your spot.

Kiosks will also support a “pay-by-phone” option, and will be used to update several municipal lots across the city.

Second, parking rates and hours would increase, from $0.50-$1.00 per hour to $1.00-$1.50 per hour. The plan clarifies that only downtown spaces would see an increase to $1.50 per hour. It also suggests “Special Event Parking Zones,” which would change meter spots to $10-$25 per-day spots for big events.

The plan would also change meter enforcement hours from 8 AM - 6 PM to 8 AM - 9 PM on weekdays, and add Saturday to the enforcement schedule, from 9 AM - 9 PM.

As far as funding goes, it is unclear based on the proposal where initial funding will come from. Again, neither council nor the city has responded to requests for comment.

The plan, however, notes that similar projects by this firm have seen a 3-to-4-year return on investments in other cities. It also says the increase in parking cost is “conservatively projected to yield $500,000 annually.”

In the proposal, it breaks down the “rationale” for the changes.

The first reason is to “Make the public’s experience with on-street parking more customer friendly and convenient.” With this plan, the city also intends to decrease clutter on sidewalks, lower maintenance costs, better enforce parking regulations and improve residential parking systems, among other goals.

The first phase of the program replaces standard meters with kiosks in downtown Cleveland, as well as the University Circle and Ohio City neighborhoods, while phase 2 will expand kiosk operations to neighborhoods around Cleveland, including Old Brooklyn, Kamm’s Corner, Tremont and Shaker Square.

Phase one will also provide funding for six new ALPR vehicles equipped with technology to service the kiosks.

While some are sure to welcome updates to parking, this big change is sure to come with a strong public reaction.

For a comprehensive breakdown of costs and affected areas, check out the full plan on city council’s website here: