Traverse City Downtown Parking Lot By The Numbers
As perhaps the busiest summer in Traverse City’s history continues, downtown parking meters keep ticking minutes and hours and earning revenue. So how much are these counters really worth? What is the most popular parking spot in town? And what is the parking fee for?
Nicole VanNess, director of transport mobility for the Downtown Development Authority, opens the database to share some ideas, in numbers:
3,038: total number of parking spaces managed by Downtown TC, including 883 on downtown streets, 25 on the NMC campus, 131 on the streets in and around the main Munson medical campus, and 2155 in the parking lots of the downtown.
1,683: number of these spaces that are metered, with an additional 297 spaces available by permit. The 1,058 garage spaces make up the rest.
2,769: number of places held by the city, the remaining 269 places being rented.
$15,000: amount of money raised in a single day by the Hardy and Old Town garages on Saturday, July 2. According to VanNess, even though most numbers are tracked by month, they were able to pinpoint this date as (unsurprisingly) their biggest parking revenue day of the year.
Zero: how many times has Brickyard Towing been called in to tow a vehicle in the past two and a half years. According to VanNess, not a single tow has been performed by Brickyard since 2020. Prior to that, cars were towed less than five times per year.
100 E. Front Street: If you guessed that the block with the highest demand and use for parking meters is the 100 E. Front block, you’d be right. Looks like Cherry Republic, Pangea’s, Mama Lu’s, and the City Opera House keep these counters up to date almost non-stop.
100 E. State St.: Likewise, the busiest lot in town is Lot G in the 100 E. block of State Street. These 55 spaces bordered by Cousin Jenny’s, Charles & Reid and Mode’s Bum Steer remain crowded more than any other. (Daytime drinkers at Union Street Station and Doublewide likely help boost that stat, too.)
600 W. Front: The lowest demand for on-street parking is along 600 W. Front, which is good news for anyone looking to experience the new Modern Bird. The least frequented lot in town are the 18 leased spaces in lot Q, which is a little misleading as this lot is tucked away behind Lay Park north of the Hagerty building.
(We asked what the busiest counter in town is, but that calculation is a bit too precise for existing data.)
116: the most recent number of “peak offenders” receiving the most expensive tickets.
For most of us, if we get caught at a yard after our time expires, it’s a $10 bill. For most other violations, it’s $15 per violation, ranging from obstructing traffic and parking at an inappropriate angle to blocking an emergency exit or “for prohibited purposes” like washing – or sale! – a car.
However, the price of a parking violation jumps to $75 if you are a habitual parking offender.
A few years ago, the city increased the number of “Off-hour metered parking” violations from 7 to 12 per calendar year.
Prior to this change in 2017-2018, 441 such citations had been issued; in the last calendar year, that number has dropped to 116, which means that if each of these parking lot pirates gets a ticket in a single day, that’s another $8,700 in the city’s coffers.
4232: number of citation letters (2nd and 3rd notices) issued to overdue citation payers in the last year.
According to city rules, the cost of your $10 violation will double if you don’t pay it within 15 days. Thereafter, the fees increase again if you let them pass 30 days without paying (then they are recovered after 60 days).
Even despite these growing reasons to pay on time, VanNess reports that 2,761 2nd opinion letters were sent last year and 1,471 3rd opinion letters. With violations adding an extra $10 each time, that’s at least another $42,000 for the city from late payments.
300 feet: approximate distance to nearest parking spot on Clinch Park waterfront sand. We thought there was a chance it was lot C or D on the south side of Grandview, but no: lot M at the marina gets you steps from the sand. (C&D lots are around 350-400 feet.)
35%: how many meter transactions are still done in cash or coins. It’s almost an even split between the three payment types, though: 35% of transactions are made through the Parkmobile app, the remaining 30% by credit card.
(It should be noted that Parkmobile offers perks for using it – we were just offered a free Starbucks card to pay via a specific brand of credit card.)
What projects or expenses are funded by parking meter payments?
VanNess explains that the parking fund is a corporate fund, which means the revenue from the parking lot pays for all of its own expenses, including routine maintenance and repairs.
Beyond that, parking fees paid for three bicycle parking structures, five bus shelters (split 50/50 with BATA), free bus passes for downtown businesses through the Destination Center program -city, snow clearing of lots and streets, a new camera system and multi-space payment stations, maintenance of public restrooms on Park Street, as well as the ongoing rollout of the city’s single-space smart parking meters.