Sandpoint, Diamond ponder parking partnership

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SANDPOINT — With the disbanding of the police department’s municipal enforcement office, city officials are investigating a private partnership to manage parking.

At a snappy council meeting Wednesday night, members spent the majority of their time examining a contract proposed by Diamond Parking Services to fill the parking enforcement void. While the service would require city subsidization, it would cost less than police municipal enforcement and has the potential to generate revenue for the city.

“These guys would be down there all day and aggressively enforcing to make sure (downtown employees) aren’t taking up these parking spaces,” City Treasurer Shannon Syth said.

As a private business, Diamond Parking Services employees would be able to maintain a constant presence downtown during their service hours. In their service proposal to the city, company officials suggest making a few changes to maximize convenience and revenue.

The company would purchase install a pay station called the LUKE, an advanced piece of equipment that can accept several forms of payment, send text messages to customers’ mobile phones when parking is about to expire and offer an option to add more time remotely. In addition, Diamond Parking Services would handle the purchase and installation of new signs and all necessary labor.

According to the company’s suggestions, city officials have a few options when considering parking fees. The service proposal recommends eliminating free parking on Saturday and Sunday and establishing a monthly parking rate of $29 in the city lot. In addition, the plan suggests eliminating free two-hour parking if city officials are interested in raising more revenue. Street parking would retain two hours of free parking.

The plan also recommends establishing a $2 fee for up to two hours and a $4 fee for up to 10 hours of parking in the new Sand Creek parking lot. A $39 price tag is suggested for a monthly parking pass.

In terms of revenue, Diamond Parking officials propose the company keep the first $2,500 every month to cover costs. Eighty percent of additional revenue would go to the city, while Diamond Parking would keep 20 percent. As for parking enforcement, the company has a set fee of $4,825 per month to provide service with all parking citation revenue going to the city.

Council members used their time Wednesday to review the service proposal but didn’t take any action on the matter. City staff will develop a contract to be approved or disregarded at a future meeting. While many members were excited by the possibility of revenue from the service, they also emphasized keeping parking costs at a consumer and business-friendly level.

“This is a big shift on how we’re doing parking enforcement, and there’s a potential cost to consumers,” Councilman Justin Schuck said.

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