Parking Authority: A Shell of Itself?

If we connect the dots between two documents-the July 15th presentation made by the Mayor to members of the public on the parking lease and today’s official press release on the "final parking proposal"-the City’s Public Parking Authority would remain in place to monitor the lease but would be forbidden from building new parking facilities in a "no compete area" that constitutes much of the Golden Triangle.

Someone-either the Authority or the City-will own the garages according to the July presentation. Presumably that means the garages will continue to be exempt from real estate taxes. That same presentation assures Authority employees that they "are protected". The lessee is to honor collective bargaining agreements in place and those not offered employment with the Authority will be offered a job with the City. The July document also states that the authority will remain in place to monitor the lease.

The Parking Authority is prohibited from adding new parking in Downtown, but the door is open for the City’s development arm, the URA, to enter into the parking business (it presumably still owns garages at the South Side Works). The press release states "new parking can continue to be built in this area by private developers, the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the City/Authority for use by municipal buildings such as a courthouse, police station, fire station, government administrative building, correctional facility, public school, public library, public parking or recreational facilities". If there is a new garage built, the lessee has to prove it has been harmed in order to be awarded financially.

So what will the post-lease Parking Authority look like? It may or may not actually own any parking facilities, it may or may not be debt free depending on how much the lease nets, it will have minimal staff to monitor the lease, its other employees will either be working for the lessee or the City, and it won’t be permitted to add parking for the next five decades.