The Portland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee is asking the City Council to consider extending parking meter hours until 9 p.m. to raise revenue, and to earmark some of that increase for the committee’s projects.

“We understand that the current budget situation is forcing the council to make hard decisions, and therefore we would like to offer a more creative solution for the council’s consideration – one that won’t merely preserve a popular program for safer streets, but will also help support the city’s general fund,” wrote Zachary Barowitz, chairman of the advisory committee.

Some downtown visitors and businesses dislike the idea of extending the parking meter period by three hours, even though they recognize the city probably needs the money.

“I think it’s a horrible idea,” said Dobra Tea owner Ray Marcotte, who keeps the Exchange Street tea house open until 9 p.m. during the week and until 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. “It definitely affects business. I know a lot of people who already don’t even come into town now because they can’t find parking.”

Making people pay for an extra three hours would be a big problem, he said, especially given that the meters allow a maximum of two hours of parking. That would force drivers to move their cars to a different spot or risk a ticket under Portland’s parking rules.

“I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of ‘No way!’ pushback,” Marcotte said. As he spoke, a customer at the other end of the tea house asked the server for his check because his parking meter time was expiring.

The city’s 1,525 parking meters cost $1 an hour from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and bring in about $4.6 million a year to the city’s general fund.

By comparison, Boston’s meters cost $1.25 an hour and operate from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and meters in Burlington, Vermont, cost $1 an hour and operate from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

“We’re from Portsmouth (New Hampshire) and I could see having to pay until 7 or something like that, but till 9 p.m.? I think that’s really pushing it for tourists to ask them to pay that late,” said Kirsten Moskowitz, who was parking Thursday night on Exchange Street.

Barowitz said the committee made a “conservative estimate” that extending meter hours would raise an additional $620,000 a year. The committee, which currently funds its projects with a portion of developer fees, also asked the city to consider earmarking 15 percent of all meter revenue for a fund to pay for the city’s bike and pedestrian coordinator staff position and related street projects.

Two people spoke in support of the proposal at the City Council’s Finance Committee meeting Thursday.

Councilor Nicholas Mavodones, who chairs the Finance Committee, said he was open to the proposal, but the city would need to undertake a thorough process before making any decisions. However, Mavodones said he would not necessarily use the funding for bike-pedestrian projects, given the multitude of other budget needs.

After the meeting, Mayor Michael Brennan said he also supported preserving the bike-pedestrian coordinator position and that he was open to the idea of extending metered parking.

“It’s a proposal I would be willing to consider at some point,” he said.

“I’m all about raising revenue for the city, but being in retail, anything like this is a detriment to customers,” said Meg Lewis, the manager at Longfellow Books on Monument Square, which is open until 7 p.m. during the week. Lewis said charging for evening parking would have a big impact on people coming downtown for dinner and a performance, or for a movie.

“If they had a meter, they’d have to run out and feed a meter in the middle of a show,” she said.

It’s bad for night workers, too, said Christina Klein, the bar manager at Sonny’s restaurant on Exchange Street. When she’s behind the bar at night, she can’t run out to move her car.

“This is horrible for employees,” Klein said. “I understand the need for revenue, but it’s hard to pay for parking, or a parking fine, or worse, being booted.”

On Thursday afternoon, Old Port visitors said they didn’t like the idea of having to pay more for parking later into the evening.

“I don’t want to spend more money if I don’t have to,” said Elaine Meade, who lives off the Portland peninsula.

Jason Snyder of Westbrook, the customer at Dobra Tea who left to feed his meter, said extended meter hours may force some visitors to park in garages instead.

“It adds another concern” to visiting downtown, he said.

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