MeterRemovalUser-paid parking has ended for the parking decks and surface lots in west Dearborn.

And the majority of the parking meters on the streets in the west downtown have also been decommissioned.

About 40 on-street parking meters remain to encourage customer turnover. These spots are among the most convenient parking spaces to nearby businesses.

Parking restrictions will still be enforced at the remaining meters. Meters can still be found along Howard, from West Village Drive to Garrison; Mason, from West Village Drive to Michigan Avenue; and West Village Drive, along Mason to Howard.

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The de-commissioning of the user-paid parking system addresses the perception that paid parking is an obstacle to redevelopment.

It also addresses a popular sentiment that paying for parking in public lots, decks and on-street spaces discourages customers who would otherwise patronize west Dearborn businesses.

The public parking system will continue to be financed with money from the West Dearborn Downtown Development Authority (WDDDA) and the City’s general fund at a lesser amount than in previous years.

The City is also discussing the re-instatement of a Special Assessment District (SAD) to cover the operational costs of the parking system.

Under an SAD, which is a public version of a Common Area Maintenance (CAM) charge implemented at private malls and multi-client centers, businesses that use the public parking spaces will be required to pay for their upkeep, insurance and snow removal, but not infrastructure improvements.

The boundaries of the SAD and the cost allocation assigned to each business would be determined at public hearings before the City Council.

In conjunction with new businesses opening this spring, the WDDDA will launch a marketing campaign promoting the downtown district, including the end of almost all user-paid parking spots.