City-parish releases RFP for downtown parking management

An illustration of a parking lot with trees. (Courtesy of iStockphoto)

After more than two years of impasse, the city-parish today released a request for proposals for the management of all city-parish garages, basement parking, and surface lots.

It’s the first major step taken by the administration of Mayor Sharon Weston Broome toward solving downtown’s chronic parking problems, which have escalated over the past two years as the area has grown.

The new RFP calls for a firm to provide affordable short-term parking for downtown visitors, provide “clean, safe and convenient” facilities, and utilize “creative marketing strategies to increase revenue and attract new contract, event and daily parkers.” It also requires the contractor to “reduce operating expenses through efficient business practices.”

“Streamlining our parking management practices will promote efficiency and create a better experience for our citizens and visitors who frequently park downtown,” Broome says in a statement.

A previous parking plan was scrapped in August when Broome pulled out of a 2016 deal cut by then-Mayor Kip Holden with Atlanta-based Park Baton Rouge to modernize and manage public parking downtown.

Holden’s plan called for contracting with a single vendor to manage both the garages and some 800 smart parking meters. But a contract hadn’t been negotiated or finalized by the time Broome took office in January 2017, and it took the city months to get a handle on what its expenses would be under the deal, including the purchase and installation of new automated equipment for the garages.

Broome instead adopted a revised strategy, breaking that contract into two, issuing an RFP for one firm to manage the garages and parking lots, and one for another to oversee “on-street parking solutions,” including the enforcement, maintenance and collections of the meters. Broome says she’ll start looking to the private sector in the coming weeks for someone to manage the on-street parking solutions, and her administration will simultaneously put out a separate bid to purchase the meters.

As for why it’s taken so long to issue an RFP, Chief Administrative Officer Darryl Gissel says the city had been tied up trying to save money through the contracts, and working around separate problems regarding where to place the parking meters. They also pulled in Square Button Consulting, the consultant Holden used when creating his plan.

“We don’t have any expertise in doing this,” Gissel says. “The goal is to maximize revenue for the city.”

Lanier Parking Solutions Senior Vice President Steve Resnick, whose firm led the Park Baton Rouge team, declines to comment on the RFP issuance except to say his team has received the document and is “reviewing it to see if there’s an opportunity.”

Resnick previously told Daily Report the lengthy process had been a source of frustration and disappointment, saying his team tried reaching out to the city multiple times last year to explain its proposal, which Resnick argues would not have cost the city as much as its own analysis indicated.

The city-parish will accept sealed proposals until April 23 at 2 p.m. in Room 826 of City Hall, 222 Saint Louis Street.

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