Council OK's bill to allow drivers to buy credits to offset carbon footprint, park free

Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at 10:59pm

If you’re willing to help the environment, free downtown parking has become Metro’s reward on multiple fronts.

Fresh off enacting a law in December allowing drivers of hybrid, biofuel and electric vehicles to park free at downtown city meters, the Metro Council gave final approval Tuesday of a bill that extends the same incentive to all Davidson County registered drivers who purchase credits to offset the carbon footprint of their automobiles.

Councilman Charlie Tygard, author of the latest law, had called the related proposal elitist, arguing only the wealthy could afford such environmentally friendly cars. He said the carbon offset plan levels the playing field.

“To me, it was an equity issue,” Tygard said. “The bill we passed previously to allow hybrid vehicles free parking at certain downtown meters, many Nashvillians couldn’t afford that high-priced vehicle.

“This gives the opportunity to any Nashvillian no matter what car they drive,” he said.

The new plan relies on a special formula to determine the level of carbon emissions a vehicle produces. Interested drivers are to purchase carbon offsets through contributions to designated non-profit environmental organizations. The offset comes in the form of planting trees or wetlands mitigation –– all aimed at countering vehicular carbon emission in Nashville.

Nonprofit groups that offer carbon offsets typically charge between $40 and $72 for a mid-sized sedan, according to the council’s research.

Using a carbon-offset formula found at, a 2002 Honda Civic owner who drives 15,000 miles per year would pay an annual offset of $41.58 per year. Using the same formula and yearly mileage, a driver of a 2002 Ford F150 pick-up truck would pay a carbon offset of $73.92 per year.

Former Councilman Roy Dale, founder of EarthCredits, is the architect behind one of the applicable non-profit groups. In the past, he has told The City Paper of plans to restore Ewing’s Creek floodplain in North Nashville through vegetation.

Under the new law, drivers opting into the program are to show a certificate of carbon-offset proof to the Davidson County Clerk’s Office. Drivers are to indicate they’ve opted into the program by pasting a sticker on their windshields.

In other business, the council did the following:

* Approved on the second of three votes Mayor Karl Dean’s proposed $1.58 million budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year. Before heading to the council for final approval later this month, the bill will go to the council’s Budget and Finance Committee for any last-minute tweaks.

The approval Tuesday came after a public hearing in which most citizens who took part advocated for continued support of the Metro Arts Commission.

According to MAC Executive Director Jen Cole, the commission is losing $30,000 in the proposed budget, a 3 percent cut. Most departments are facing modest cuts, ranging from 0 to 3 percent.

Meanwhile, a handful of council members — led by Eric Crafton, Jim Gotto and Vivian Wilhoite — asked that a 1.5 percent pay increase proposed for Metro employees be changed to a $1,500 lump sum increase to award lesser paid employees in an equitable way with those at the top. The council deferred a resolution that outlines the pay plan.

* Approved a resolution to revoke a 10 percent raise that was added — through a law enacted in 2006 — to the salary of Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk David Torrence. The law allows compensating clerks who, like Torrence, serve multiple courts.

Torrence came under fire recently following a WSMV-TV report that revealed he had been working only three days a week and using a government vehicle to run personal errands, which included at least one trip to a wine and spirits store.

* Approved a non-binding resolution sponsored by Councilman Eric Crafton that requests schools director Jesse Register to launch academic magnet schools at all 12 high school clusters. The vote was 32-6.    

46 Comments on this post:

By: Nitzche on 6/7/11 at 9:29

this is sad!

By: kamaliman87 on 6/7/11 at 9:33

All I have to say is, seriously? Is this some kind of joke? Go out to California and you all sink or swim out in the Pacific, and take your friend Al Gore and Karl Dean with you!

By: slacker on 6/8/11 at 5:57

This new plan relies on a special formula to determine how much green, these people who know whats best for you, can siphon out of your wallet. We are non-profit. Buy and eat what we tell you, and you'll be rewarded. Maybe with a shiny new 5 watt light bulb.

By: tdterry1999 on 6/8/11 at 6:14

Nashville vote these fools out before it's to late.Do recall whatever is needed to get rid of these fools.

By: Shane Smiley on 6/8/11 at 6:15

I love my 7.5 watt light bulbs! You should try them!

By: Jagman on 6/8/11 at 6:30

This has got to be a joke. If EarthCredits wants to plants trees, let people donate for that purpose. Not to SAVE the planet. It appears that some people will believe anything. As the old song goes; "I've got some oceanfron property..."

By: commonsense1 on 6/8/11 at 6:54

Come on council, this is crazy, and a slippery slope. We don't want any Carbon Offsets!!! Don't give Al Gore my money.

By: BenDover on 6/8/11 at 7:36

$40 - $80 bucks a year for free parking at any meter? The definition of a 'no brainer' Holy Crap... I've got to get me one of these certificates before they're all gone.

You thought parking was bad down-town now... you ain't seen nothin' yet.

By: madridia on 6/8/11 at 7:53

If this city really wanted to make a difference in carbon production, it would put in a train.

By: revo-lou on 6/8/11 at 8:00

Lets see, max 80 dollars a year to park anywhere on the street downtown, money goes to restore, repair, upkeep, create natrual areas, and it pizzez birthers and global warming deniers off! Sounds like a GREAT deal!!

By: BenDover on 6/8/11 at 8:11

Yeah... trains. That $5 million a year we subsidize so 200 people from Lebanon don't have to drive to work every day is a real winner.

By: parnell3rd on 6/8/11 at 8:25

Morons creating Oxymorons. Free parking equals $48-72. Like the so called emissions test,(wink wink. extra $9 tax) this is just another tax for the city. At some point it will become a required tax for everyone.

By: localboy on 6/8/11 at 8:29

You know, they would have suffered less ridicule if they had just proposed establishing an annual parking pass available to anyone for say, $80, with the funds earmarked for Parks and Recreation...and it would have accomplished much the same thing, except it wouldn't necessarily go towards funding someone's dedicated pony project without having to come up for council approval on an annual basis. This is just posing for the pretty picture...

By: revo-lou on 6/8/11 at 8:37

Last I checked parnny, you are NOT required to do it. Pay as you go, and shut your pie whole.

By: royt5 on 6/8/11 at 8:57

How much proof are the liberals going to need to learn that this is all a sham game to get more money out of the common taxpayer. This is really a joke, and everyone who votes for something like this needs to be defeated at election time.

By: Magnum on 6/8/11 at 9:18

The 200 people on the train from Lebanon/Mt. Juliet/Hermitage/Donelson are probably mostly state employees as they ride for free. They essentially built a train system to take state employees from to and from work.

By: left on 6/8/11 at 9:32

To offset the carbon foot print, I am selling green bag covers with locks for parking meters. All you do is park down town, get out of your vehicle,put bag on meter and lock. Parking is free. Your bag allows you to park at any meter in Nashville. Price for bags are $29.99 and all money goes into my account, not the cities account or al gore's account. Bag has lettering on outside saying "I paid for my footprint, leave me the f***k alone you stupid green shit eating ma gits".

By: slacker on 6/8/11 at 9:38


By: revo-lou on 6/8/11 at 9:46

Seems odd how upset some "people" are getting about a voluntary project, that cost them no money and benefits the envrioment. Oh, wait, it is for the envrioment, I forgot that god put it here for us to do with it as we please.

This is kinda like the lottery was, except that instead of affecting the “poor”, it will affect all the OTHER people that the teanuts/birthers love to hate.

By: FLeFew on 6/8/11 at 9:46

The next problem is finding a vacant meter. You burn more fuel than this just looking for a parking spot.

By: BenDover on 6/8/11 at 10:10

The benefits to the environment will be minimal revo. Everyone who is currently paying for parking in a lot will buy up all of these permits and park where retail customers used to park. Then all of the retail customers will be forced into the lots at daily lot rates instead of 75 cents in a meter; and then will have to walk 3 miles to get to the retail establishment. Then they'll figure out that 'this sucks' and go back out to Cool Springs where they have free parking in the first place. This is a stoooooopid new law that will totally f*ck up consumer parking in the down-town area based on some ineffective feel-good cronyism between metro and these greenie carbon-offset scammers.

That said, I will be buying mine because that's a friggin' steal for parking, though I suspect there will be no 'meter' parking available during the day any more just like there's never any after hours or on weekends or during events when the meter parking is free.

By: racer84 on 6/8/11 at 10:16

No one mentions Jen Cole with her husband on the council while she makes a 6 figure income as director of the "Arts" commision is upset over losing 30k from a million dollar budget.

Perhaps a salary cut is in order.

So the Father is a big shot with TDOT
Son is Metro Council
Daughter in Law feeds from the taxpayers too.

Whole famdamily makes its money from the taxpayers.....Notice a trend in Deans friends on the council.

By: revo-lou on 6/8/11 at 10:21

First, Ben, the envrioment will benefit because the money collected will be put towards that use, specifically, and that is money that is not being applied to it now.

Second, the parking meter rules will still be in effect, such as time limits, and no parking during rush hour, which will deter most employees from taking the spaces. I further venture that most that have spaces in parking decks, will keep them as to assure a place to park. If one works on Second Ave, or Broadway, they are not going to want to have to walk from 5th and Church every day, or try to fight for a spot along 4th.

Third, I doubt that this will entice those that do not come downtown to start doing so.

What it will most likely do, is for people like you, and me, and others, that come downtown for a one or two hour meeting, dealings with the courthouse, codes, or lunch, to park without having to worry about having coins and worry about how much time is left on a meter.

By: BenDover on 6/8/11 at 10:41

Supply and demand my friend, revo. The money going to the crony greenie companies and will come straight out of the parking meter revenues; and there will never be another parking meter available at anytime for a quick in-and-out by consumers because down-town workers, frequenters, and residents will be all over this until it reaches critical mass and they are forced back into $300 a month parking by the early-birds.

By: revo-lou on 6/8/11 at 10:55

Well, Ben, it seems the experiment will be on. Should be a good study.

By: budlight on 6/8/11 at 12:19

Or we can all park in the LEV parking spaces in Chattanooga at the Green Market. Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV) is in place in this walk about community in Chattanooga. The manager of the store said that they are there to "encourage" people to buy Low emissions vehicles or to inspire them to purchase a new vehicle.

I said, "Oh yes, parking this close to a grocery store will definite prompt me to spend $40,000 and go into debt for a new low emissions vehicle. I guess my other choice is to buy some of Al Gore's carbon credits -- or would I have to sell him mine because he has a $12,000 a month electric bill and my bill is only $100 to $200. I'm cutting back on using lights at night so I can save money.

Some people will drink any kool-aid mixture they run across, won't they?

By: Nitzche on 6/8/11 at 12:21


By: revo-lou on 6/8/11 at 12:55

{Nitzche on 6/8/11 at 1:21

What you talking about Willis?

By: madridia on 6/8/11 at 2:03

I wasn't talking about the train to Lebanon, I am talking about a train to Murphreesboro. The few buses that run are packed, the interstate is backed up for miles every single day. I promise, if we build it, they will come. (And we wouldn't even have to build it -- the tracks exist, but CSX currently is refusing to share).

By: BenDover on 6/8/11 at 3:09

I can't imagine that CSX wouldn't negotiate to allow any unused capacity to be used for commuter service. The bigger deal is that trains are so good and inexpensive for moving bulk freight. If commuter service starts to interfere with that then it's doing an environmental disservice -- not a service. Just like this stupid parking issue and as with almost everything else; if it doesn't make dollars and sense it doesn't make common sense.

By: parnell3rd on 6/8/11 at 10:32

Here is what Councilman Charlie Tygard is not telling you. 1st carbon offsets are a scam created by then Millionaire now multi-millionaire Al Gore.
2nd Zero, none, nada of the "carbon offset" money to park free downtown is going to the County of Davidson. So the County and City loose parking meter money.
3rd Who is getting the $48-72? A non-profit group. Do you really think they will use this money for wink wink grrrreeeeennnn parks ? good one! hahahhahaa
If you believe this start singing "there comming to take me away haha, ther comming to take me away.
4th will money be going into Concilman Charilie Tygard pocket book?
and thanks revo-lou for pointing out that i don't have to buy it. whew that was close!!!!

By: truthisfun on 6/9/11 at 5:47

This city has become a joke, and David Torrence is the rule and not the exception. Our municipal government is as corrupt and ignorant as Chicago or Louisiana. In this case, Nashville's city government is both rotten and stupid.

For the first time in his worthless political career, Tygard was right when he voted against the Yuppies Park Free! bill. Then what does he do? He turns around and introduces this dreck, which his fellow ignoramuses on the council dutifully supported. Does anyone believe "EarthCredits" could withstand even a cursory audit?

It is a shame we can't load up Tygard and all the fools who supported this mindless banality, along with the Dean Administration, and send them to a re-education camp in Gitmo. As it is, we have to suffer these fools at least a few more months in the case of much of the council, and in the case of Dean likely another four years unless the next council can force him out of office or the feds do their periodic visit and frogmarch Fat Boy Karl to prison.

By: holleracha on 6/9/11 at 6:45

I plan on contributing to the environment downtown by staying away. I can have just as much fun patronizing areas that dont charge anybody just to park...

By: revo-lou on 6/9/11 at 6:53


1st – Jealousy is ugly, especially on you.
2nd – The county is aware of where the money is going. Why is this a problem for you?
3rd – If you have proof (and we know how much you like proof) of wrong doing, bring it forward. Otherwise STFU.
4th – Again provide proof, and not orange tip painted, or STFU.
And, I was doing the community a service, as we didn’t want you down there going off with powder and lead.

By: truthisfun on 6/9/11 at 7:05


The kleptocrats who have turned Nashville into an open sewer will reverse the Yuppie Park Free nonsense and the Tygard insanity in a nanosecond as soon as they see even fewer folks going downtown. Fan Fair only lasts a few days, and as soon as the rest of us join your boycott, the corporate scum and their council whores will reconsider this brilliant idea.

By: revo-lou on 6/9/11 at 7:11

My guess would be that those of you that are choose to stay away, will make it much more pleasurable for those that stay, and, indeed, entice others to come and enjoy the new “envrioment”!

By: truthisfun on 6/9/11 at 7:19

Maybe you are right, revo-lou. My guess, though, is that it is your types who will be mouthing "mistakes were made" when this gets reversed. As I understand it, Taste of Music City last weekend was the most ill-attended city event in recent history, and parking was cheap or free. I attended, and frankly looked for tumbleweed to blow down Demobreun. There is a solution, though. People who have overblown opinions of their cretinous existence can count as two people and attendance can stay the same!

By: revo-lou on 6/9/11 at 8:07

So, is the problem free/cheap parking or not? No, in your case, I guess it is just the “principle” of the thing. Who knows why Taste may have not done well (according to you) Seems like a lot of people stayed away because of the attitude you brought there. Not that there weren’t MANY other things going on downtown at the same time that may have had people going in many different directions.

But let’s just see how thing go, shall we? My guess is that the city will get along just fine with this bill, and WITHOUT your participation.

By: truthisfun on 6/9/11 at 10:29

My problem, revo-lou, is the asinine belief this will accomplish anything other than to deprive the city of revenues, assist those who don't need the help, and enrich those unworthly of the largesse. Since you caught the seeming contradiction of my previous post, I will give you the benefit of the doubt and chalk up what follows to ignorance. Simply Google "Roy Dale" and tell us if this man's life as a public official and in private business strikes you as someone who would care much for wetlands. And if you come back and claim the man is some Green or environmentalist, we can then discard ignorance and chalk your comment up to stupidity or insanity.

By: revo-lou on 6/9/11 at 11:27

So, Dale runs a company that you dislike? Here is what I know, one cannot live "outside" of the world and make changes to it. Trust me, I have tried.

Change, and only a fool would argue that we don't need to change what we do to, or have done to, the environment, can only come from within. Those that do the damage (development for example) have to work in a better way, and in a knowledgeable way, and in a cognitive way to achieve their goal with a minimum amount of damage to the surrounding area. I say this with the full understanding that development is NOT going to stop, and to proceed with that goal in mind is both futile and worthless.

The reasonable action is to make the process of doing minimal damage, or doing things in a way that work better with the envrioment, what people want, and want to do.

Money means nothing, the environment means everything.

By: truthisfun on 6/9/11 at 11:51

Agreed, revo. Just do that Google-thingy and see if you think the guy who will get the bucks from this inanity will do things in a way that work better with the environment.

By: revo-lou on 6/9/11 at 12:18

Provide a link if you want something specific seen, cause I am not finding anything that damning. Dale is an engineer/developer. It is what he does. Al Gore’s success doesn’t bother me either. Being angry with someone achieving, which I think is still the American dream, never was my muse.

My concern, my fight, is that we all recognize when we f’k things up, and that we try to fix them, not for us, but for those things themselves. If someone gets rich in the process, so be it. They, or someone else, were going to get rich anyway.

By: truthisfun on 6/9/11 at 1:50

If you are comfortable with what you found, so be it. I just find it odd the city will collect money and turn around and give it to a developer for "carbon credits." If you don't find this unsettling, well, I won't try to dissuade you. As far as Gore, I really could care less since he isn't involved in this particular issue.

But this is one of the most ludicrous things I have seen the council do in a long time and, again, it will accomplish nothing but give free parking to the affluent, money to a developer's fund, and deprive the city of revenues. Lose, lose, lose.

By: revo-lou on 6/9/11 at 2:52

If it works, it helps the environment. If it doesn’t, it is nothing new for us, as a city or a species.

By: tomba1 on 6/9/11 at 6:14

If you wonder why this matters to ALL of us, read the Traffic and Parking Commission staff report which recommends disapproval of the bill and the Commission, with chawly tigerd present, chose to ignore as did the council.

The staff had a problem which few others seem to be concerned about - the economics of it all. We will ALL pay for this. The plan reduces metro's meter revenue, with the free parking, resulting in probable enforcement staff reductions due to revenue shortage while, at the same time, increasing the burden on enforcement. It gives away the "offset" fees for the "freebie" program to a private sector non-profit which just happens to be operated by a former councilperson.

The green car "freebie" which passed months ago had the same enforcement problem. It did so with many saying the problem would be addressed. And now, months later, the exact same issues arose and, lo and behold, the same answer. Wonder who's been working on a solution all of these months?? Not tigerd.

Sleep well tonite knowing that as soon as the polls close and the last vote is counted, we will wake up staring at the inevitable property tax increase. Not because of this specific bill but because of the mindset, attitude, and ego of elected and appointed representatives which enable, not just allow, something like this to happen. And to top it all off, we are paying them to do this to us so I guess we are getting what we paid for.

By: localboy on 6/13/11 at 9:04

"Money means nothing, the environment means everything." Until you're laid off.