Downtown parking system not a city priority

The city has no current plans to replace downtown coin-operated parking boxes. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

The city has no current plans to replace the downtown coin-operated parking boxes. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

Juneau city manager Kim Kiefer does not expect a resolution anytime soon in the city’s lawsuit with Nevada company Aparc Systems over faulty parking machines.

“We’re in the collection of all the information piece right now, and so I don’t anticipate, if it goes to court, it probably won’t go to court until mid to latter part of next year is my guess at this point,” Kiefer says.

The city terminated the contract with Aparc Systems last December and initiated a lawsuit after the city invested nearly a half million dollars in the problematic parking system. The Juneau Assembly approved $110,000 for legal fees to outside counsel for the litigation, and so far, about a third has been spent.

Kiefer says the low-tech coin-operated boxes for hourly parking are working. Motorists are paying 75 cents an hour to park in three downtown parking lots. The city still offers two free hours of street parking.

“The piece that we’ve lost now with the Aparc system not in place is that before people could go onstreet, they’d register their car and if they knew they were going to be there for more than two hours, then they could go ahead, pay that amount for an extra hour and pay it right then and have it taken care of. Or, maybe they’re shopping and realize, ‘Oh, it’s going to be longer than what I thought,’ they could have gone to any of those kiosks and put more money into in. So that’s the piece we don’t have now,” Kiefer explains.

The coin boxes were intended to be a temporary fix, but Keifer says the city has not determined a permanent parking system solution.

“Given that we had a $6 million budget deficit this last year and we have a $9 million budget deficit next year, that’s taken a back burner at this point,” she says.

Keifer anticipates a new system will cost the city at least $500,000.

Meanwhile, she says the Downtown Transportation Center and the Marine Parking Garage are heavily used. Both have waitlists for permit parking spots.