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Mailbag: Meter Made--FQ Workers Respond to Parking Compromise

Mayor Mitch’s plan to make public parking downtown more expensive was met with outrage from French Quarter service industry types. So, a compromise was offered. In response, three leaders of the opposition, Nick Detrich, Mark Schettler, and Chris Lane penned an open letter calling for more attention to root issues such as public transit.


The changes that the administration has proposed are certainly a step in the right direction, and a positive move toward compromise.  However, the issues of how it impacts a considerable portion of New Orleans hospitality industry are not sufficiently addressed.  As Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin has said, "We need to make sure we have a robust system of public transportation. That is certainly an issue that is critically important.”  And now that certain aspects of the increase are inevitable, it is imperative that they move forward in a manner that is advantageous to everyone in New Orleans.  In order for the parking increase to be implemented in a way that is not detrimental to the people who work downtown and live paycheck-to-paycheck, there are issues that still need to be addressed beyond the current compromise.


It is necessary for the safety and continued economic success of New Orleans’ downtown hospitality industry to have access to reliable public transportation in lieu of parking.  Instituting a parking increase prior to providing effective alternatives is disruptive to people’s lives and livelihood.  A sudden increase in parking rates, with no alternatives, exacerbates the challenges that face an already vulnerable workforce.  If the administration is positioning it’s parking revenue to be in line with other larger municipalities, then it should offer public transportation that is in line with those cities.


Furthermore, if this initiative is geared toward reducing congestion, then providing expanded public transportation will result in less people driving downtown.  The administration is implementing policy before understanding the congestion issue itself, as the Department of Public Works’ traffic flow analysis will not be finished until the end of 2016—as council member Cantrell clarified at the City Council meeting on November 11 of last year.  This is an analysis that will not begin until after the increase in metered parking, and that the city will use for projections for the next 15 years. (hour 2:20


The parking increase, in terms of adding revenue for the city, still remains unduly weighted against workers and residents downtown.  The fee that film productions pay for street & meter rentals remains low.  There are no plans for it to increase proportionally with parking fees or fines, and rendering streets inaccessible inhibits traffic flow and adds to congestion.  


In the meantime, by expanding transit options the city will stand to benefit.  Adding hours of public transit, and adding riders, will mean that less people drive downtown.  The less people that drive downtown the less congestion.  Also, if transit is on par with other large municipalities, the city will add revenue on this service.  


The compromise is a show of progress and concern on behalf of the administration, but it advances without offering alternatives to its constituents.  This policy will have a resounding impact on the people that work downtown and should not move forward until New Orleanians can get to work safely and affordably.



Nick Detrich, owner of Cane & Table
Mark Schettler, President of USBG.
Chris Lane, NOLA Citizens for Fair Parking spokesman


The text above is a letter to the editor and expresses only the opinion of the authors, not NOLA Defender or NOLA Defender's Editorial Board.

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