What’s next for Harrisburg parking?

Drivers who parked along 10th Street came out to find a $30 fine flapping in the wind. Most were confused and frustrated to receive a ticket without notice of a sign change. Following last week’s report, SP+ waived the fines handed out that day.

Many have contacted abc27 asking what other procedures or parking changes Standard Parking has planned. SP+ Regional Manager Jon Kemp spoke with abc27 to provide insight.

Perhaps the biggest project underway is the planning of an overhaul in the Midtown neighborhood. SP+ will carry out another phase of its meter transformation and install 88 new multi-space meters. Kemp said the project is in its early stages and had no definite timeline, other than the hope was to have the project completed by fall.

Kemp believed the spaces would include 3rd St. from Reily to Herr and a few meters on side streets such as Verbeke. Midtown residents with residential parking permits parked in metered spaces for free. However, SP+ said that will not fly under their jurisdiction. Kemp said if you park in a metered space, you pay for a metered space – period.

This has many in the community questioning whether the expansion would include the Broad St. Market, which parking is currently free up to two hours.

Kemp was unable to clarify.

“I don’t know…not off the top of my head right now, no,” he said.

Buried in the Asset Transfer Agreement [ATA] for the City’s Parking System, this legal document states that any change of on-street metered spaces must have the approval of Harrisburg City Council. In this initial plan, changes pertaining to the Midtown neighborhood only include overhauling the 88 current spaces.

According to this legal document, city officials tell abc27 they understand SP+ cannot simply begin to charge for those spaces without city government approval.

The mayor’s office said the same must happen for sign changes. Stemming from last week’s overnight switch along 10th St., Standard Parking said that was not their doing.

“The city changed those, not us,” said Kemp.

The ATA does mention that the city’s engineering department is in control of any sign changes per city council approval. According to the mayor’s office, the city did not instruct the change of signs.

The confusion may lie in when the work was approved, which was not readily available. SP+ believes the work was approved “a long time ago” but was never carried out. Regardless, the true gripe was over notification of the changes, which driver’s who received tickets said there was none.

Following the abc27 report, SP+ said last Thursday there will be at least 48 hour grace period when a new sign is installed. This may include handing out warning tickets for that time period.

Kemp did talk about some improvements that should come this summer. A smartphone app was discussed in the past, but it appears that app may not be the aforementioned ParkMobile app. City officials have told abc27 they are looking into another vendor that may offer the same services for a lower cost.

SP+ does have the ability to offer account cards to replace the former ‘Express Keys’. Anyone interested may head to the main office on Walnut St. during business hours to apply for a card.

Kemp said SP+ continues to install the new multi-space meters in the Business District corridor, mainly around the capitol complex. And, very soon he said a few downtown garages will have automatic arms installed.

“This will allow us to keep some of them open later,” Kemp said.

For the River St. Garage on 2nd St., this means the garage will have 24 hour access. In essence, this means no more getting trapped over night and waiting for the morning to retrieve your vehicle.

Many have also asked about the parking rates, if there was a possibility getting changed? Anecdotes from downtown workers have said less people park along the streets since the parking changes.

According to the ATA, the current meters rates are locked in for five years. After 2019, SP+ does have the ability to charge for more than 11 hours and on Sunday. SP+ said it is too early to tell if that will be the plan.

The ATA does allow public input to be received via the Parking Advisory Board. When Kemp was asked if that board has the power to change what is written in the ATA, he answered. “I don’t know, that’s beyond my scope.”

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