Dan Haase spends about $6 a month on parking at Fort Worth’s City Hall. 

As representative for his Central Meadowbrook neighborhood, Haase tries to attend the meetings his neighbors might not be able to make. 

Those $6 add up. Haase’s potential yearly contribution of about $72 for parking is part of a yearly revenue of $131,700 that the city generates from parking around City Hall. 

The price of public participation goes up when parking tickets are factored in. The city brought in an additional $10,000 in parking tickets on the streets surrounding Fort Worth City Hall over the past year. That brings the city’s total income from parking to about $141,000. 

“Parking fees are not helpful in gaining participation, but frankly, finding the parking is often a bigger challenge, and for many, finding the venue is, too,” Haase said. 

Peter Elliott, parking manager for the city’s transportation and public works department, said short-term metered parking is essential for creating a high amount of parking turnover to maximize available parking.

“Metered parking helps to manage the limited parking resource and to minimize all-day parking in the spaces closest to City Hall and downtown businesses,” Elliott said in a statement. “This provides an impetus to citizen participation by quick and easy access to City Hall.”

Most council meetings are in the evening, when parking is free. However, the city still holds monthly council meetings during the day and consequential commissions, like zoning, typically meet during the work day. 

The funds from meters go toward the city’s municipal parking fund and parking ticket revenue goes to the general fund

The city’s parking software has other issues, Haase said. The city’s FW Park app is a convenient way to pay for parking remotely, rather than relying on meters near the parking zones. However, the app doesn’t allow residents to renew their parking in the same zone once two hours have elapsed. 

“It is not at all unusual to have a meeting go longer than that,” Haase said. “We sat in a zoning meeting for four hours waiting for our case to be heard.” 

What are the best places to park near City Hall other than parking meters?

Citizen Lot at City Hall

Parking in the lot will be $1.50 an hour with a maximum $7 per day. The lot is free after 6 p.m.

The lot is located directly behind City Hall.

The Houston Street Garage

0-20 minutes $ 3.00
21-40 minutes $ 6.00
41-60 minutes $ 9.00
61-80 minutes $12.00
81-100 minutes $15.00
11 to 12 hours $18.00
12- 24 hours $22.00

Commerce Street Garage

0-20 minutes $ 3.00
21-40 minutes $ 6.00
41-60 minutes $ 9.00
61-80 minutes $12.00
81-100 minutes $15.00
11 to 12 hours $18.00
12- 24 hours $22.00

Haase, who has been sitting in on meetings since the 1980s, remembers when he didn’t pay for parking at all. In 1982, the city amended ordinance 8629 to update its metered parking policies to be more in-line with commercial parking elsewhere in the central business district. 

The ordinance sought to reduce congestion and increase access to parking downtown by changing parking rates. The goal is to “… encourage short-term parking and discourage long-term parking at the same time,” the ordinance reads.  

In 2007, the city consolidated its parking assets under the parking enterprise fund. In 2012, metered parking was added to a citizen surface lot after encountering issues with unauthorized parking by city staff. 

The city last updated its parking rates in 2018, going from 25 cents per every 10 minutes parked to $1.50 per hour for short-term parking under two hours. 

“These problems solve themselves” or will they?

The majority of city staff members also have to pay for parking at City Hall. Only staff members who are assistant directors and above do not have to pay for parking. 

At the new City Hall, an existing parking structure will still not provide enough parking to accommodate city staff. At the new City Hall, every city department will be housed in one building and use one parking structure. 

The city could address parking challenges for employees and visitors by providing ample free parking options, at least that is what Dan Haase thought. 

“Thankfully, these problems will solve themselves next year when the city moves to their new building,” Haase said. 

But the city hasn’t finalized options for parking at the new City Hall and can’t confirm whether parking will be free, Allen said in a statement.

Additional parking will have to be added to the property, Tanyan Farley, who represents Athenian Group, said at a quarterly presentation to City Council about the new City Hall. In a survey of city employees, 93% of city employees said they preferred to commute to work in a single-occupancy vehicle. Only 49% of city staff live in Fort Worth. 

The city plans to accommodate parking needs by adding two floors to the existing parking structure and add an additional parking garage to the back area of the property 

City Council chambers will be constructed with access in mind, Farley said. The council chambers will be fitted with updated audio visual equipment to make watching meetings remotely easier. Council chambers will also be bigger, with 250 seats for meeting attendees. 

“I think we’ve accomplished (safety and transparency) with the models to date,” Farley said. 

But the Rev. Michael Moore, president of the Historic Stop Six neighborhood association, said the city still needs to confront a troubling lack of public participation at council meetings.

Without any public accountability, Moore said, council votes can become automatic. Complicated language and daytime meetings also make public participation unrealistic for most of his neighbors, he said. 

“I think they should absolutely make parking free,” Moore said. The cost “makes it harder for residents to participate in meetings.” 

Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at rachel.behrndt@fortworthreport.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Rachel Behrndt

Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for fortworthreport.org. She can be reached at rachel.behrndt@fortworthreport.org