Buffalo city crews started changing the signs in parking areas around KeyBank Center Wednesday, hours before the new parking plan was changed. Common Council members released an amended version and say it will be passed at Tuesday's full Council meeting.
With news of the plan to change parking rules and potentially raise revenues perhaps lost in the Christmas rush, and then a massively subscribed on-line petition in opposition, Buffalo's Common Council and the Mayor's Administration are re-thinking the plan and cutting it back.
While the hourly rate will rise from $1 to $2, the latest parking plan does away with charging on weekends and sets up what amounts to events districts downtown where the charges will run through to 10 p.m., but not on off-nights.
Finance Committee Chair Richard Fontana said the latest plan is more flexible.
"The fee would go from $1 to $2 and then after 5 and then weekends, it still remains free," Fontana said. "That seems to be the greatest consensus, was on the plan and for special events. That's when you get more demand. You have to pay until 10 p.m. You will be able to pay multiple hours. You won't have to go back and feed the meter after two hours, at those meters."
Council President Darius Pridgen said members are responding to loud public objections.
"A person walks into my office and they have a concern, I listen. And the other Council members do," Pridgen said. "But I think that people articulated from many different areas - the business community and other places - their positions. And what I'm thankful about is that they just calmly, most of them, came to me and said, 'Hey, this is where I'm at on it.' And I listened and the Council listened."
Pridgen said it wasn't just that on-line petition with 22,000 signatures in opposition. The person who started the petition, Reba Allen, said the opposition had to be made public.
"Basically, their issue pushed my button. But it's not hard to have your buttons pushed with the dumpster fire that is Washington, D.C., right now," Allen said. "I think a lot of it is pent-up rage about what is happening on a national scale and this is is one thing that affects me directly and it was one thing I could do something about. So I did it."
Besides limiting late-night charges, the latest plan also bars charging at parking meters on weekends and a string of public holidays. Parking Commissioner Kevin Helfer is directed to report back to the Council on April 1 on how the plan is working.