02/27/2013 02:26 pm ET

Ferndale Parking Changes Spark Outcry, Leaders Of Michigan CIty Extend Free Park Period

People complain about the need for more affordable parking in downtown Detroit all the time, but now a neighboring suburban community is also facing scrutiny due to changes in its parking system.

The city of Ferndale, Mich. recently transitioned from parking meters to a new system of parking kiosks and raised rates up to an $1 an hour at some times and locations. Hours for parking enforcement have also been extended to 11 p.m. Ferndale City Manager April Lynch told Ferndale Patch the new rates would encourage quicker turnaround for on-street parking spaces and help fund additional updates to the parking system.

The changes have been met with anger and confusion by some citizens and business owners upset about rates and long waits. The outcry has gotten so fierce that city leaders have extended free parking period during the transition until March 11 to address concerns.

In a Feb. 12 letter to Ferndale Patch, Chris Johnston, a resident and business owner, criticized the city for having higher rates than the nearby cities of Royal Oak and Birmingham.

"Ferndale wants to have a thriving downtown like those two cities, but our parking rates tell customers the exact opposite," he said. "I want Ferndale to have a stronger retail presence. The focus of efforts should be on getting new retail customers instead of disenfranchising the majority of Ferndale's visitors. That's backwards to me."

In response to a Patch article on the subject commenter fern-81 said:

It's getting more and more frustrating working "downtown" Ferndale. Going in for a shift at a bar/restaurant at, say, 5 o'clock is challenging if not impossible at the metered spots on the weekends. You're not allowed to park on surrounding residential streets. The yearly pass is too expensive, and now the meters (if you can even find one) are increasing in price. And the whole "get to work early so you can park and walk" doesn't really fly when you typically get out of work a 3 a.m.

In addition to extending the free period city officials are also trying to address availability issues.

“We have been informed that our 4 busiest lots are experiencing an average 60-80 transactions per hour during peak hours; this activity represents 3-4 times the industry standard of 15-20 transactions per hour,” Loyd Cureton, Director of the Department of Public Works said in a statement.

City leaders are attempting to remedy this situation by taking steps to install 14 additional pay station machines to supplement the existing 20 machines.

News of the free parking extension has been happily recieved by at least a few, like Samantha Bell, who tweeted:

Ferndale isn't the only city to revamp its parking system in recent years. In 2011, Detroit extended Monday to Saturday parking enforcement hours until 10 p.m. for some parts of the city. Last year, people trying to park in Detroit expressed frustration with limited options after parking pay stations suddenly didn't accept credit cards for weeks as the city searched for a new vendor to process credit card transactions.



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