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City council of Phoenix raises parking meter fees

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The Phoenix city Council approved a new ordinance allowing for the increase of parking meter fees in the city of Phoenix two days ago. Several downtown business groups testified in support of the new ordinance. Apparently, these business groups were concerned about people parking their cars for long periods of time at parking meters. They believed that when people stayed over the allowed time at parking meters that this would cause profits to fall for their businesses.

This support was greatly outnumbered by some ASU students and other citizens who came to testify against the increase in parking meter fees. The students, were concerned about the higher rates becoming unaffordable for them. Other citizens, were concerned about people from outside of the downtown area being discouraged from coming downtown by the higher fees. One citizen, was concerned that the higher fees would affect cause fewer people to come to city Council meetings therefore causing an unfair and in direct tax on civic participation. In addition, to other citizens testified during citizens comments that this proposed ordinance would place parking meters in . These citizens felt that this would be a violation of the city charter to charge citizens in effect a fee to use city parks.

Council members Waring, Diciccio and Gates voted against the parking meter increase while councilmembers Nowakowski, Gallego, Valenzuela, Williams, Pastor and Mayor Stanton voted for the proposed parking meter increases.

The more conservative councilmembers generally voted against this increase, although, Councilwoman Thelda Williams (Republican) voted with the other five Democratic councilmembers in support of the increase. Councilman Diciccio was concerned that bureaucrats in back offices would be raising the rates as they saw fit instead of the elected city Council members themselves. Councilman Waring also brought up concerns that people such as himself with his family would no longer want to come visit downtown because of the higher parking fees.

There was some humor and testiness during discussion and debate over this proposed increase. Councilmember Waring used the term high falutin in conjunction with the new parking meters whereby Phoenix Mayor Stanton joked over that expression. The testiness came when councilmember Diciccio appeared to imply that the parking meter increase was an attempt to gouge the public due to the approximate $37 million deficit that Phoenix was running. At that point, Deputy city manager Rick Naimark testily responded that the main use of parking meters for Phoenix was not to charge fees but rather to increase circulation of people in the downtown area.

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