The Competing Interests in the Parking Lease Plan

Modern urban politics is not at all exempt from the old axiom that "you can’t please all of the people all of the time". This is playing out in the discussion over leasing the garages, lots, and meters owned by the Parking Authority to a successful bidder in return for a lump sum that will then be handed over to the City to shore up pensions.

  • The head of the Downtown Partnership is worried that there will be "a private operator coming in and doing whatever the heck they want" (that would be true if the City and the Authority were just selling the garages and lots and allowing for the buyer to develop the property as they see fit);
  • a Council member wants the Authority to retain the right to lease the garages but then be able to build new ones if it so pleases (since 2001 the Authority has built garages and lots that account for 30% of its total Downtown inventory: close to 50% of spaces were built prior to 1960);
  • the Controller wants meters to not be included in the lease because "we would be better off dealing with a local entity than we would with Goldman Sachs".
  • the finance director has intimated that the more conditions placed on the lessee-"the more that you take up front, you’re going to get less on the back end"-will harm the deal, even though that individual, wearing his hat as chair of the Parking Authority board, said that no one at the Authority would lose their job over a potential lease deal.

Even the Mayor noted in January of 2009 the balancing act when he said "I’ve got to protect pensioners, I’ve got to protect city taxpayers…And of course I’d like to protect parkers, too, but not at the expense of city taxpayers and pensioners."

Which interest will win the day? It remains to be seen.