The Excelsior City Council revisited its discussion April 19 on the paid parking trial on Second and Third streets. At its Feb. 16 meeting, the council voted to move forward with the trial program using the Premium Parking system. The trial period will run through the summer so city officials can evaluate the system during the peak summer season.
Parking was originally $3 per hour everywhere in Excelsior. Councilmember Jennifer Caron said the rate is really high. The council agreed that in the trial area, the first hour of parking will be free. After that, parking is $1 per hour, until a certain time later in the day. Then, the rate will be $3 per hour. Parking in the trial area will be free on Sundays until noon.
The council directed city staff members to work on signage for the trial. The city has ordered additional signs, said Scott Richards, the city’s planning consultant. They recognized that there were some gaps in signage, he said. The city will put poles into the ground, so the signs are higher and more visible.
Councilmember Dale Kurschner asked if the city will provide business owners with an easier way to provide patrons with free parking. Richards said they addressed the matter so business owners can log on to the system and pay for their customers.
Councilmember Ann Hersman noted that Excelsior still has two free parking lots. Residents can also buy parking passes so they never have to pay, she said, adding there is a lot of free parking in the area.
“I walk back there all the time and there’s always spots in the east and west lots for parking that’s free,” Hersman said.
Previously, parking in the trial area was not being enforced by the South Lake Minnetonka Police Department. However, the council decided parking would be enforced from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
City Manager Kristi Luger asked if the council wanted the police department to proactively enforcing parking regulations in areas other than the paid parking areas in the trial. People have been parking for longer durations on Water Street and behind the businesses where the officers traditionally don’t enforce parking regulations.
“We’re seeing some unintended consequences as a result of our parking trial,” Luger said.
The council was in agreement that parking regulations should be enforced. “I don’t know why we have regulations that we don’t enforce,” Caron said.
Caron said the city has been working through some kinks with the trial and weren’t able to start enforcement right away. In general, the city should be enforcing the regulations it has in place, she said.
In the middle of 2016, Excelsior shifted its parking meters to its current system along Lake Street and Excelsior Boulevard. At that time, the city got pushback from Maynard’s about the change. Since then, the city hasn’t heard that the meters have impacted their business.
From mid-2016 to the end of 2020, the city generated about $1 million in net revenue from parking, Caron said. That is significant for a city of 2,300 to 2,400 residents with a limited tax base, she added.
“We have a responsibility to pursue opportunities for revenue,” Caron said.
The city still has a lot of analysis and planning to do for where it will go with parking from here, Caron said. The city officials will be careful not to take any steps that would negatively impact the business district.
“I think the evidence we have today is that has not happened, where we did do a change in parking,” Caron said.
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