A proposal to let drivers of environmentally cleaner vehicles park at city meters for free hasn’t gained buy-in just yet.
The ordinance, set to go before the Metro Council on the second of three votes next week, will be deferred for the second time, the bill’s sponsor Councilman Jason Holleman told The City Paper. He said the bill would be taken back up again in November.
Earlier this week, the Metro Traffic and Parking Commission reviewed the bill and deferred weighing in on the matter so commissioners could review the implementation and enforcement of similar policies in other cities. Clearance from the commission is not mandatory for the bill’s passage.
Holleman also said his bill currently lacks the signature of Metro Finance Director Richard Riebeling.
Some skeptics of the proposal, most notably Councilman Michael Craddock, have called the bill “elitist,” pointing out that environmentally friendly vehicles — hybrid, electric and biofuel automobiles — tend to be more expensive than traditional automobiles.
“The elitist thing just isn’t accurate,” Holleman said. “There are several [hybrid] cars that are in the $8,000 to $10,000 range.”
Others have raised questions about the financial effect Holleman’s bill could have on Metro’s parking-meter revenue stream.
Under Holleman’s plan, drivers of clean-technology passenger vehicles would be allowed to park for free at any of Metro’s more than 2,000 parking meters. Six percent of all Davidson County automobiles would be eligible.
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 to receive 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.
“In my mind, there’s no doubt it’s going to be either revenue-neutral or revenue-negligible,” Holleman said, adding that it’s unlikely the policy would enjoy 100 percent particpation from all eligible drivers.
Holleman’s bill is inspired by Mayor Karl Dean’s Green Ribbon Committee, which recommended that Metro issue window stickers that provide free meter parking for clean-technology vehicles.
“The part that requires the most education is to get people to realize is that it’s not just about the impact on meter revenue, but it’s also realizing that we have federal requirements to meet air quality,” Holleman said. “If we don’t do it this way, we have to do it in a way that probably costs more.”