Downtown Anchorage parking rates at city-owned garages and lots are set to rise sharply next month, in their first increase in several years.
Metered parking rates on Anchorage streets are not affected by the increase, EasyPark parking director Jeff Read said Thursday.
Metered rates will remain at $1.25 to $1.75 per hour, but garage and lot rates will rise from $1.25 an hour to $2 an hour effective Feb. 1. Monthly parking permit costs will also rise by varying amounts, Read said, based on each location’s maintenance costs.
The rate increase was approved earlier this month by the board of EasyPark’s parent organization, the Anchorage Community Development Authority, Read said. The board held a December meeting to discuss the proposed increases, according to the Northern Journal.
It’s the first parking rate hike the city has seen since 2016, Read said, as the authority has tried to avoid subjecting drivers to annual increases.
“There probably should have been some adjustments in the middle there,” he said.
This year’s increase was precipitated, Read said, by rising costs at most EasyPark facilities. Those have included extensive plowing work to clear lots after November’s major snowstorms, as well as increased security patrols.
But next month’s rise in rates won’t fully ease EasyPark’s budget concerns, Read said.
“We’ve been operating at a deficit for quite some time, and even with this increase, the facilities will still be operating at a deficit,” he said. “So in order to maintain the garages in the safest, most efficient way possible, we’ll actually have to use part of meter income and things of that nature to make up the difference.”
EasyPark is also working to roll out about 1,400 new parking meters across the Downtown area over the next two months. According to Read, the current meters are over a decade old and have reached the end of their useful life cycles, leading the Anchorage Assembly to authorize replacements.
“They’ll look very similar to what we have on the street now, but it’s a much newer version – it’ll have tap-to-pay and some other easier ways to pay,” he said. “And the reliability of the new meters is going to far exceed what’s on the street right now.”
Part of the increase is meant to cover future inflation, which Read said should keep parking rates steady for the immediate future.
“We are hoping that we can push these rates out for the next few years at this rate,” he said.
Downtown metered spaces are monitored from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, with a two-hour limit on total time at a single meter enforced Saturdays. But outside that, drivers can still park in those spaces for free.
Read said EasyPark also sometimes announces event-based parking deals on its Facebook page.