Why One City Councilman Wants to Sell Denver's Parking Meters

August 28 2009, 12:56 PM

linkhart-dougStealing a page from Chicago's playbook, Denver City Councilman Doug Linkhart wants to put Denver's parking meters up for sale in an effort to close a $120 million budget shortfall. Denver would lose about $9 million a year in revenue if it doesn't own the meters, he tells CBS4, but the city would get a lump sum of about $400 million if it sells them. Now, before you start fantasizing about free parking, nobody is actually saying that the meters would be removed. They would remain right where they are. And they could cause controversy in the wrong hands. That's what happened in Chicago, when the company that maintains the meters decided to raise rates last year, and it says it will double rates there by 2013. Linkhart (pictured) says Denver could avoid that situation by maintaining regulatory control of the meters. Still, Bill Vidal, who oversees the city's Public Works Department, isn't a fan of the plan. "The reality is, we may end up mortgaging our future," he tells The Denver Post. Meanwhile, other cities are trying the idea. In Pittsburgh, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has pushed a similar program to bolster the city's troubled pension fund, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's proposed budget includes a parking-lease deal to address a budget gap.