Wednesday, September 22, 2010

$452 Million is TOO Much Money

After weeks of waiting, the final tally has come in. The city needed a minimum of a $300 Million bid for the parking assets in order to pay off the existing parking authority debt and boost the pension fund up to 50% funding.

The city got an offer of $452 Million.

For weeks, city residents were told that these over-arching changes were required. There was no way to separate the parking garages from the parking meters. Every adjustment the administration made to the proposal would highly risk our ability to be competitive. We needed to "keep the deal attactive to potential bidders."

And then what happens??? We end up with way too much money.

So what do I say? Put the project back out to bid for just the parking garages. Give the 7 pre-picked firms the option of re-submitting bids for just the garages. After all, the Metered Parking System Agreement is already separate from the Parking Facilities Agreement. I'm willing to bet that we can get $300 Million for the facilities alone.

Leasing our parking meters for 50 years is simply ridiculous. Letting someone else control where and how much our parking meters cost will be deadly to local businesses and future development. There is free-market competition for the parking garages and the ability for 3rd parties to build more. When it comes to parking meters, there is no such thing.

What about Port Authority's quest for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) which would greatly improve our transportation options in certain corridors but could require elimination of some parking meters? If the parking meters are leased, that becomes an added expense to the project. The city should control its roads. Lease some profitable parking garages downtown, but don't sell out our roads.

Or do you really trust City Council and the Mayor's office with a $150 Million bonus?

Or we can wait until Friday when City Council's study of the parking situation comes to light.

Whatever the case, we know now that either the Mayor had no idea what the parking garages are worth (and still doesn't) or his office was perfectly willing to bully the city into giving away way too much power. Seriously, it's going to cost $2 per hour to park in the struggling neighborhood of Brookline but we're supposed to be happy that the Mayor saved our free Sundays?

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