CLEVELAND — Changes are coming to how long you are able to park for free on downtown Cleveland's streets, plus how much it will cost you to park for special events.
However, fans who may have been concerned about a potential hefty increase to park at the Muni Lot to tailgate before Cleveland Browns games can breathe a bit.
On Monday, Cleveland City Council approved legislation sought by Mayor Justin Bibb's administration to increase the rates to park at various city-owned parking garages and lots, plus parking meters.
After several days of negotiations, Bibb's office has released the following parking rate changes that will take effect on Oct. 1:
North Coast Municipal (Muni) Lot:
- Daily rate for cars, SUVs and small trucks: $5 (capped at $10)
- Daily rate for RVs, buses and oversized trucks: $35 (capped at $50)
- Non-city employee monthly rate: $70 (capped at $100)
- Special event parking is capped at $50
- Browns game day parking: $40 per space
- Overnight rate for RV’s and buses: $75 (capped at $80)
- Overnight rate for cars: $25 (capped at $30)
Willard Park Garage:
- 0-60 minutes: $4 flat rate and $1.50 for each additional 30-minute period; $12 daily max; $10 early bird rate (daily maximum capped at $20)
- Special event parking is capped at $60
- Browns game day parking: $40 per space
- General monthly rate for non-city employees $150 (capped at $175)
Canal Basin Lot (Flats):
- Daily rate: $5 (capped at $10)
- Weekday special event parking (6 p.m. to 6 a.m.) is capped at $50
- Browns game day parking: $20 per space
Here are other key provisions of the ordinance:
- Parking meter enforcement will cease downtown between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., meaning it will cost you to park on the street for an extra four hours in the evening. The legislation would give the city's director of public works power to set parking regulations for days of the week and hours of the day, potentially charging drivers to park on the weekends.
- Parking will be free downtown on the following holidays: New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving), Christmas Day, and the day after Christmas.
- The West Side Market will reduce the amount of free parking time during market hours from 90 minutes to 60 minutes.
The Director of Public Works "is authorized to charge and cause to be collected the payment required in parking meter zones such charges and fees ranging from one dollar ($1.00) to eight dollars ($8.00) per hour and is further authorized to establish regulations that set forth the days of the week, hours of the day, and intervals of time for which parking is permissible."
According to Cleveland City Councilman Kevin Bishop, there has not been a parking rate increase in the city for several years. City leaders studied other large cities in Ohio and mimicked their parking rate structures.
“In our parking division, our expenditures have been outpacing our revenues,” Bishop told 3News' Bri Buckley on Monday. "In order to keep our parking facilities viable, we have to have a rate increase to take care of our parking facilities because we’ve got to spend a lot of money on improvements and upgrades."
Bishop adds that council did "a lot of back and forth" with the Bibb administration to keep the increase "modest."
"We tried to make it affordable," he said. "We didn't want to price the common Clevelander out of downtown. We want to keep it affordable."
However, it is the Muni Lot cost that raised the most eyebrows, especially given the spaces significance to Browns home games.
When the legislation passed on Monday, the rate was set to be raised to "up to $70." Following more negotiations, City Council President Blaine Griffin says the city will now only be raising the rate from $30 per parking space to $40.
"We did not want to price out families who are wanting to tailgate and have a good time, so we lowered the rate," Griffin said in a statement to WKYC.
According to Griffin, he and other legislators wanted the price to be comparable to other cities in the AFC North Division, such as $70 for Cincinnati Bengals games and $50 for Pittsburgh Steelers games. While Griffin says there will be a maximum $50 rate for other "special events," the price will (at least for now) remain capped at $40 specifically for Browns games, with the council president further stressing that officials "should not charge tailgaters an enormous fee so the city can make money."
Already, longtime Browns tailgaters are feeling the effects of high prices. Robin Lockner — president of the Cleveland Browns' women's group — usually takes her specialized bus to games but says she had to pay $200 to park in the Flats before the season opener earlier this month. As the vehicle takes up three parking spots, the changes to the Muni Lot prices could have an even bigger impact than most.
"Now that prices are skyrocketing, we're kind of on a limb as to what we're going to do exactly," Lockner said. "I'm not sure if they're trying to eliminate tailgating in Cleveland or what, because its kind of driving the people away."
The new legislation will officially take effect 10 days after Mayor Justin Bibb signs it into law. However, the new Muni Lot prices could be in place by this Sunday's Browns game against the Tennessee Titans.
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