Bill to offer free meter parking for environmentally cleaner vehicles deferred

Monday, August 16, 2010 at 11:30pm

A proposal to let Davidson County residents who drive environmentally friendly vehicles park for free at Metro meters isn’t an easy sell for all Metro Council members, with one skeptic even deriding the plan as elitist. 

The council’s Budget and Finance Committee last night opted to defer the green-parking bill until the second meeting in September at the request of sponsor Councilman Jason Holleman, who said he made the move to give the Metro Traffic and Parking Commission time to weigh in on the matter.

The council had originally been set to vote on Holleman’s bill on the second of three reading tonight.

Under Holleman’s plan, drivers of clean-technology passenger vehicles — hybrid, electric and biofuel automobiles, for example — would be allowed to park for free at any of Metro’s more than 2,000 parking meters.

To take advantage of the plan, Davidson County residents would be required to pay an annual $5 processing fee to the County Clerk’s Office for a sticker indicating that their vehicle is authorized to park for free. The fee is designed to pay off expenses Metro accrues to implement the plan. 

The County Clerk’s Office would determine the eligibility of applicants by using a “green vehicle guide” found on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website. According to Holleman, six percent of all registered vehicles in Davidson County would qualify, including 40 different vehicle models. If approved, the law would take effect Jan. 2011. 

But Councilman Michael Craddock called the proposal “pure elitism in its finest form.” He said the majority of drivers in the United States own cars that were manufactured before 2000. If Holleman’s bill were approved, Craddock said he would file an ordinance that would offer the same parking-fee exemption to drivers of vehicles that are at least 10 years old.

“I want to give a break to those people who cannot afford a new hybrid,” Craddock said. “I’m watching out for those fellows.”

Holleman said the idea for the bill came from Mayor Karl Dean’s Green Ribbon Committee, which recommended that Metro offer free parking for environmentally cleaner vehicles.

“The purpose of this incentive is not just because we think environmental issues are ‘cool and great, and that’d be something neat to do,’ ” Holleman said. “There really is a taxpayer cost at the back end of this if we don’t do something about air quality.”

Metro Finance Director Richard Riebeling said he’s still evaluating the financial impact and feasibility of Holleman’s proposal. Holleman said the plan is “revenue neutral.”

Still, some council members nonetheless questioned financial soundness of the bill, including At-large Councilman Charlie Tygard, who suggested it could cost Metro more than $5 to produce stickers for environmentally friendly vehicles.

“You’re talking about the cost of the sticker, the manpower to process the paperwork, the printing, the software, the postage to get it to that person,” Tygard said. “I just don’t think that can be done for five bucks.” 

13 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 8/17/10 at 4:43

Secondly only to the government's upcoming offer of a $7,500. taxpayer money credit to buy one of these vehicles-this was a terrible idea Here's hoping the Councilmembers will spend more time saving money instead of assist the administration in being more and more involved in our lives and pocketbooks!

By: house_of_pain on 8/17/10 at 5:27

This is a ridiculous idea. WTF is Holleman smoking?

By: xhexx on 8/17/10 at 6:21

These people are already getting a tax credit for the cars the qualify. Are we going to just continue to give them a BJ?

By: budlight on 8/17/10 at 6:23

people who can afford the luxury of green vehicles are RICH. So they can afford to pay the nominal parking fees. Hollemanis not smoking house; he's got a line running into his veins. He's nuts and I hope other council members see through this.

By: capt4chris on 8/17/10 at 6:58

Encouraging people to be environmentally friendly is important. I think this would be a great direction to move!

By: budlight on 8/17/10 at 7:08

no capt, it just irritates us po-folks. Where's my break financially? I've been EF for about 50 of my 64 years. So no breaks for the rich unless we po folks get one.

By: morpheus120 on 8/17/10 at 9:06

Wow, never saw this many ignorant opinions outside of Redstate.com.

Govskeptic: the proposal will save money in the long run because people will be using less oil that comes from countries that hate us. It will improve air quality which saves $ on people's healthcare bills, some of which we pay for b/c of emergency room visits.

budlight: the few people I know personally who have hybrid vehicles are not rich. They are solid middle class families who work for a living and pay taxes. The hybrids aren't even really that much more expensive than any other new car in their class. And you use less gas, which seems fiscally responsible as well as environmentally responsible. If you think these people are "elitist", I think it says more about you and your insecurity than it does about them.

xhexx: no, people are NOT getting tax credits for hybrids anymore. Your favorite president George W. Bush, let them all expire so that he could give tax cuts to the rich.

Yet again, we have the Party of No idiots trying to shoot down a good idea even when it doesn't cost taxpayers any money.

By: weescot on 8/17/10 at 11:00

I bought a 2010 Fusion, I couldn't afford the hybrid model.
We buy oil from countries we hate because powers that be choose to.

My main problem with this is how do you meter someone's time if they don't have to pay. The way it seems to have been put forward is you pay $5.00 a year to park at a meter all day everyday. While I would potentially spend more than $5.00 a year and would be restricted by meter time and potential fines...
I'm not against the green movement, but lets be fair in it's implementation. A parking spot is a parking spot regardless of what parks in it. Extending tax credits at the time of purchase seems like a more than fair.

By: slacker on 8/17/10 at 12:56

Just give the hybrid owners an autographed picture of Al Gore, and treat the rest of us fairly.

By: govskeptic on 8/17/10 at 1:03

All thoughts outside the liberal vein is ignorant per Morpheus, yes we all want better milage and more hybrid type vehicles. But to start all this special discounts for those that can afford versus those that can't or don't wish to is just wrong. The City won't go without these lost funds-they will just pass them along in someother tax or fee! We give the Council members free parking, and
that's not right either.

By: budlight on 8/17/10 at 1:50

If you think these people are "elitist", I think it says more about you and your insecurity than it does about them. Said by Morpheus 120.

Well, thank you morph. You just saved me $175 for an hour of syco-therapy! Good grief. Now I have a down payment on my green car. thanks morph. Tune in every day and sycko-analyze (aka psycho-analyze) me. Gee, if I'd known I could get free mental exams and evals, I would have tuned in sooner.

Do you do orthopedics (foot hurts), ENT (ears are waxed up) and Neurology also?

By: budlight on 8/17/10 at 1:52

PS: Morph. Just joshing around with you. LOL. AND I'm so insecure that I don't even drive on days with 13 and Friday in them.

By: Rocket99 on 8/17/10 at 9:16

I guess you guys have never heard of used cars.

I own a 07 hybrid. I purchased it used. I received no tax credit.

I had choices on purchasing cars. New, used, hybrid, diesel, etc. I chose to do what I thought was the environmentally correct thing and acquired the hybrid.

I'm not saying the proposed ordinance is good or bad but very tired of idiots bashing people who are trying in some small way to help our planet.

As far as Craddock goes, he's an idiot who just wants face time on TV. If you follow him you quickly see he's not there for his constituants. He thought we would elect him to office and thank the voters he didn't get there.

Oh yeah, in Tennessee, it's legal for a hybrid with only 1 person to drive in the HOV lane. Same for a motorcycle with just the driver.