Reading City Council allowed the Reading Parking Authority earlier this year to place parking meters in loading zones in the downtown. Monday night, council was told the new program was working.
Parking authority Executive Director Nathan Matz pushed for the addition to meters in loading zones because business owners complained there was a lack of turnover in those spaces.
“We have not received a single complaint from any downtown businesses about the lack of turnover in the downtown loading zones since the start of this project,” Matz said.
Studies have shown enforcement and charging for parking spots increases turnover and that is why the program has been successful so far, Matz said.
The parking authority did not immediately start charging, and council also asked for a report six months after enforcement went into effect.
After a brief education period, the authority started to enforce loading zones on May 1.
The authority went to all business owners in the downtown and explained to them what was happening, why it was happening and when it would happen before enforcement actually started, Matz said. The authority also reached out to delivery businesses that come into the downtown area and explained what was changing.
However, one complaint the authority heard was that delivery drivers would only be parked in a loading zone for a few minutes.
The authority came up with a permit that allowed a driver to park an unlimited amount of times in a loading zone for $30 a month.
“We tried to make it really easy for them,” Matz said.
The parking authority also offered a fleet management option for delivery businesses.
“If you have 20 different vehicles in your fleet, it’s difficult to manage that,” Matz said. “But this was a pretty comprehensive solution that works well in other cities.”
But no one signed up for the programs, Matz said.
“Even though we gave everyone the information, nobody is utilizing it,” he said.
Council passed the ordinance in January and Matz said the authority could generate about $500,000 a year from the 100 loading zones in the downtown corridor.
When the parking authority started to enforce loading zones on May 1, it did so with warnings for several months, Matz said.
Previously, the authority averaged about 59 loading zone violations per month, Matz said.
Since May 1, the authority has averaged 58 loading zone violations per month, he said.
The authority has generated $485 from loading zone meters to date, he added.
Matz admitted enforcement of loading zones has not been a priority.
The parking authority’s focus has been on the citywide parking relief program and enforcement of parking safety violations such as double parking and parking in front of fire hydrants, Matz said.
Source: Berkshire mont