Fresno County employees face parking garage fee increase

FRESNO, Calif.

Many were notified by mail a few weeks ago that their rates will go up, but claim they weren't given a reason why.

When Fresno County Employee Delia Pizano got a letter in an email announcing parking fees in the downtown convention center garage would go up, she says it couldn't have come at a worse time.

Pizano said, "We've already taken a 9% cut effective in January, in addition with the parking and also in addition our health insurance costs, that will go up as well."

Right now, she pays about $36.00 a month for an assigned parking spot on the third floor of the garage. But starting in November, that rate will jump up to $48.00 -- an increase she says will put a strain on her family's finances over the course of the year.

"It's going to be hard," Pizano said. "It's going to be difficult because we're paying 468 dollars now annually for the convention parking and it's just going to be difficulty to make up the difference with all the other costs as well."

But manager of Fresno's parking services Del Estabrook says the new rate comes at a 50 percent discount. For example, if drivers were to park at this parking garage on Van Ness and Inyo streets, they'd pay about $9.00 a day or around $80.00 a month.

"There's nothing mandatory," Estabrook said. "If the employees want it they set it up through the county, the county provides me with a list of who their employees are and it's a god thing. We're providing more close end parking for these folks who need parking and it's nice when you're in a covered garage because you don't have to leave your car out in the sun."

He says the reason for the fee increase, is so the county can add an additional 150 parking stalls downtown as part of a new three year agreement with Fresno County.

"The garages cost money to operate," Estabrook said. "There's bond payments, utility, energy, the lights. They are expensive to maintain, I gotta keep attendance up, keep the oil off the floor. I did an analysis a while ago and it costs me about $90.00 a month per stall to keep them operating, so it's a pretty expensive enterprise."

But county employees argue not all of the additional parking stalls will be used right away, and they shouldn't have to pay for future growth, until that happens.

The new parking fees will go into effect November first, but county employees can opt out if they find parking at a better rate.

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