City plans on increasing parking garage rate


Jeffrey Wang/Daily Senior Staffer

The city has three parking garages in downtown, including this one at 1800 Maple Ave. The proposed 2017 budget includes a $5 increase for monthly passes for the garages.

Nora Shelly, City Editor

Parking in downtown Evanston might get a little bit more expensive next year, as city staff included an increase to city-owned parking garage rates in the proposed 2017 budget.

The increase would affect monthly-pass owners at three city owned parking garages. Rates would increase by $5 a month.

Deputy city manager Erika Storlie said the proposed increase to rates comes after a surge in demand for the monthly passes. According to budget documents, one of the city parking garages at Sherman Plaza, 821 Davis St., has a waiting list of 100 people.

“There has been so much growth in the downtown, and we have so many more people wanting these monthly passes,” she said. “It just shows that people are coming into Evanston to work or to shop or to dine, and they want to have that access to those garages, so it’s all positive.”

The increase would not affect any other city parking lots, according to a budget memo.

The city currently charges $85 a month for it’s three parking garages, which is significantly less than the rates charged by comparable municipalities. For example, the village of Oak Park charges $132.50 for monthly parking passes.

Storlie said the last time the city increased the rates was 2008 when the country was amid a recession. The financial climate at the time made the increase difficult, she said.

Storlie said the city rates may be lower than comparable garages because of the timing with the 2008 financial crisis.

“We wanted to be mindful that people did not have a lot of extra money to spare, so we were very thoughtful in approvinga the increase,” she said.

Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) said at a City Council meeting in October that aldermen were cognizant of the economic situation in 2008 when deciding the rates and thus were cautious about raising them too high. Wynne said an increase next year would be a good move.

“We haven’t done it in eight years,” she said. “We should raise the parking garage rates by some amount here.”

An increase of $5 per month would raise city revenue by $157,380, according to budget documents. Although no additional increases are included in the 2017 proposed budget, city documents indicate rates for hourly and 24-hour parking passes are also below market prices.  

Storlie said the increase in revenue would help offset a decrease in revenue raised for parking tickets.

Storlie said compliance in paying for parking has increased due to the introduction of credit card meters, and the city has raised less revenue from parking tickets. Aside from helping the city balance revenue, the increase would make sense when comparing Evanston to other communities, Storlie said.

“It’s time to evaluate if we’re still in line with the market or not,” she said.

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Twitter: @noracshelly