Feb 1, 2009

Parking Meters in RBS?

A Guest Post by Tov Bet Shemesh

Parking in the Mercaz... What's the solution? Parking Meters?

As all of us who live and/or shop in the Mercaz Mischari of RBS are aware, the parking situation has become unbearable. Forget about Thursday evening or Friday morning, just try finding a parking spot on Tuesday at 10:00AM. Good Luck. And if you dare park "illegally" for five minutes you are almost guaranteed a large parking ticket from the local police force.

So what are the numbers?

  • There are approximately 3,000 families in RBS.
  • The Mercaz has two large super markets.
  • Two Kupot Cholim.
  • A gym, a therapy clinic.
  • And ~45 smaller shops.
  • There are a total of ~285 parking spaces currently available.

So what is the solution?

Obviously there are long term (Ma'ar, building parking garages, etc.) solutions.

But for this discussion we would like to focus on short term ideas.

The following ideas have been discussed:

  • Banning all car rental and store employee parking. (Difficult to enforce)
  • Changing some parking spaces on the side streets from parallel to perpendicular. (Add 25 spaces)
  • Parking Meters - installing meters and charging 3 shekel an hour for parking. This can reduce some car traffic, and will reduce employee and car rental parking.

But what we want now is YOUR input!

What are your responses to the above ideas?

What other practical ideas do you have?

Please do NOT just use this as an opportunity to vent. We all know the problems, now what we need are solutions.

Vote on parking meters in the poll in the sidebar at the top-right of this blog. Leave your ideas in the comments section and/or email them to the email address below.

thank you,

TOV Bet Shemesh



  1. If you'd do a more exact study you'll see that probably half (50%) of the spots are taken up by the owners and employees of the various stores in the merkaz. I see them myself when I'm there early friday morning, parking their cars, many of them right in front of their store not realizing that they are hurting their own customers. Remember that the 2 supermarkets and the health clinics employ numerous peopl, many of whom drive to work. And that's besides Avis and the other rental agencies that take up a slew of spots. I am very much against parkign meters - that's more tax to pay to the city and more money I have to put out just to do shopping. It would be nice if the city added parking areas around back.

  2. I vote hiring Mendy Newman to direct trafiic and give out the tickets.

  3. GO TOV!!!

    2 hours parking free with validation. No rental cars. Store owners get a special pass with the store name on it, which will eventually help them get the message from their customers that they'd like to park closer etc.

  4. All spaces should be "Pay and display" or meters for fixed hours, for example:
    10:00-12:00 and 15:00-17:00
    The remaining time would be free parking.

    This would be enough to make sure the rental cars don't park there likewise owners and employees.

    At the same time people who really don't want to pay for parking can still try to come at the free hours.

    That gives people a choice and people who prefer to pay for the relative comfort of finding a space easily can do so.

    In order for any of this to work, tickets would have to be given out consistently and the price of parking would need to be reasonable - like 5 NIS per hour or even more.

    Well done to TOV for taking this initiative.

    Simon Synett

  5. A big problem with meters is that now that the street into Ramat Shilo is open, people will just park there, which will make life difficult for residents there.

  6. RBSer - you mean they will park in the middle of the street to avoid the spots with meters?
    if they did that, I would guess they would either get a ticket or be towed... you can't just park int he middle of the street!

  7. I voted for meters but like the idea of either some free and some pay-for hours. Also love the idea of validation...although how do you get a "refund?"

  8. why would validation help? the store owners would just validate for themselves! making the whole meter thing pointless (if the purpose is to stop owners from parking there, thus freeing up spots for shoppers)

  9. I think the car rental companies should be banned from parking in the Mercaz and disagree that it would be difficult to enforce. All of the rental cars are clearly marked as such and any found there could be easily ticketed. As far as store employees are concerned, I think they have every much a right to park one car person there as anybody else. I do think, however, if it is explained to the various stores that employee parking discourages customers from coming they will find a viable alternative and encourage employees to use it (if they haven't already done so out of their own business sense). Finally, I think the idea of a poltical party polling their constituents on what they think should be done is terrific!

  10. To those who voted ridiculous they are just trying to take more money from rich anglos etc.

    Questions: Is that what the local councils in almost every suburban shopping center in London have in mind?

    Are the stores taking advantage of the rich population by charging for their products?

    Is free parking a God given right?

    It's a scarce commodity and so should be priced accordingly.

    Can we please get rid of the magiya li attitude that plagues our mentality? You get something - you pay for it.

    Simon Synett

  11. * where would the storekeepers park ???
    * i think they should get rid of that grass area between shefa & yesh, and make some parking spots there - could probably fit 100 there, no? maybe for down the road solution they can make a parking structure with a few floors there. i'm sure the neighbors don't particularly care about seeing this small piece of grass, like they have the hills from their own windows

  12. I don't know about London, but in the US, or the parts I have lived at least, the shopping centers generally do not charge for parking, unless it is an upscale mall (our merkaz mischari hardly qualifies as an upscale mall).

    the attitude is based on the fact that RBS is charged 15% higher arnona than the rest of Bet Shemesh. For no reason.

  13. How about removing the ridiculous hill between the two supers, and restoring all that space for parking, like it used to be...

  14. "like it used to be"... those were the good old days.. I wonder how many people remember that as being the parking lot for Birkat Rachel (I still call it that)...

    the difference is that back then, the whole thing was a parking lot. Not just where the grass is now. While getting rid of the grass is an idea, I cannot see anyone advocating getting rid of the seating area and the rest of the area in between. And how many spaces will getting rid of the grass really give us to be considered a solution?

  15. sorry to dissappoint all you shoot-from-the-hip "planners" out there but that poor grassy area would give you maybe 15 extra spots and ceertainly no where near 100. One thing that seems to be forgotten is that under the building that houses Studio Jo and the Macabbi health clinic is a lovely EMPTY parking lot. Yes it is indeed private and belongs to that building but if they's open it to their customers and maybe even rent space to Avis and some of the other firms then they'd free up space. Parkign meters is NOT a good idea for our neighborhood. Please remember that in the merkaz mischari there are also residents who live who wish to park. All that really is needed is about another 50 spots nearby so maybe the solution is to take the 2 side streets and make one side of each street into angle parking and cancel parking on the other side.

  16. personally i hate meters. I never seem to have the change on me, and i am sure stores will get fed up with people constantly asking for change.

    I have a better idea, why can't we just build a huge lot on the land across the street from meuchedet, on that big plot where they were "supposed" to be some mall or something. Nothing is being built, so lets just build a big lot. Its really not far from the mischari.

  17. @Dov
    Forget London, have you been to Jerusalem or Tel Aviv recently? Paying for parking is the norm there too, even in residential areas.

    15% more arnona for no reason? Is that true? Have you asked what the reason is from someone who knows?

    @daf neighbor
    Why is this neighbourhood different from all others? Residents could have a special ticket that allows them to park at all times - that is, if they don't have a private spot in their buiding. Again this is the norm in many residential neighbourhoods in towns that have a high proportion of cars to the population.

    You'll see if you read my comment above that I suggest making hours of free parking and hours in which you'd have to pay. That way, those who value their time less can still fight for the free spots rather than fork out a whopping 3 NIS for the half hour that they are there.

    If the votes here are really representative that would be fantastic for the few who are prepared to pay, making the small fee all the more attractive!!


  18. Simon - Are you really comparing RBS with Jerusalem and Tel Aviv? RBS, even if you look at all of BS together, is nowhere near the size of either of those cities. BS is a small, residential city. It is not a leader in industry and business. We don't have large malls, we don't have office buildings, we don't have tourism and sites.

    If I remember correctly, and I have not been there in a while so it might have changed and I might be wrong, the Malha mall has free parking. The malls in Modiin - both of the big ones plus all the small shopping centers around the city, have free parking.
    Of course downtown Jerusalem is mostly paid parking, but that is downtown Jerusalem. We hardly compare to that.

    Where I work in tel Aviv it is all paid parking, but then again, those are series of office buildings with 30+ floors. Again, we hardly compare to that.

    I can understand parking meters. I see the benefit of them. But I see it as more of another way of taxing the residents.

    arnona - I know you have been here a while, but is this really the first time you have heard of the arnona issue that in RBS we pay 15% more than in BS? Most people know about, some parties even used it in their platform for elections (to get RBS arnona reduced) and if you pay attention to local politics at any level, you will have heard the issue raised many times over the years - there is no reason other than they were able to give us a different rating and take more money. There is no difference in services rendered (some think we get less services, but let's say, for arguments sake, that we get equal and not less). Yes, politicans have been asked. Yes, the reason given is that they did it because they were able to.

  19. Maybe when the new shopping center on Dolev is opened, this will reduce the number of visitors to the Mercaz Mischari.

  20. Rafi, RBS has a far larger proportion of cars per head than most residential hamlets in Israel so yes, in that respect, it is comparable to larger cities where that is the case.

    Regarding the arnona issue, that sounds like basic market economics. Anyone who moves here can find out before they come and factor it into the cost of living. Given the growth of the town it doesn't seem to be much of a consideration for most. In fact, it would be irrational for the council not to put the arnona as close as possible to the point at which it slows growth to below the optimum. I'm not saying I like it but I still have a choice whether to stay or move to RBS B, for example.

    If the major reason for voting down paid parking is some sense that it just isn't right to give them money then perhaps we could lobby for all the revenue to be allocated to long term parking solutions for the shopping centre.


  21. Parking there definitely needs to be regulated.

    But my sense is that traditional meters would make life complicated (change etc, needing to work out how much you want to pay in advance) and seem unreasonable if you only have a quick errand to run there. Also I suspect that if the whole area was regular pay parking many people would try to park just outside it - and there just isn't space there (Sorek? Kishon? Arugot? Tzeelim?)

    After all, the key to all this is quick turnaround. People need to get out and make space for the next lot of people.

    I think the way to encourage that would be to have a pay-and-display system which allows for a certain amount of free parking and beyond that you have to pay. OK - if you wanted to go and get free tickets over and over, you could, but you probably wouldn't. Let the central spaces have 30 minutes free, and the more distant spaces 1 hour free, and then 3 shekels per hour after that up to 3 hours max.

    The solution for people who work there would be to allow all-day parking with special permits (they don't have to be expensive, but allocated explicitly per store) in the more distant spots only (like the back row closest to Ramat Shilo). The employees are at work for quite a while each day - they can afford the couple of minutes it takes to walk from their spots.

    I would also add that I think the traffic patterns could be improved. I have a feeling that the current pattern discourages parking in the back area. When they created the one-way system I was a little surprised that they made it work as it does, but I don't have an good suggestion right now for how to do it better which doesn't run the risk of being unsafe.


    There could be a two tier system -

    1. paid-for parking (meters, cards, whatever) in the current limited space, high convenience parking area

    2. Within a few hundred meters (even an open field) - Park & Ride (Free) with plentiful parking available, and a shuttle regularly taking people back-and-forth to the shopping center.

    Well done Tov for bringing this topic up for discussion!

  23. I am not sure what is gained by parking meters. Nobody is going to avoid shopping because of the extra fe shekels it will cost to park. People need to shop and that is where the shopping is. The only real benefit is the potential to get the storekeepers and rental car companies to park elsewhere, and how mnay spots does that free up? Perhaps, if that is the only benefit, there can be a different solution, specifically directed at the shopkeepers and rental agencies...

    The meters will bring in a lot of money for the city and be a hassle for the residents (always having to carry change..). Even more so, big money will be made on the tickets, as people don't put in enough money, it takes longer to shop than expected (lines in the super can sometimes be very long), maybe someone tries to run in "for just a minute" and takes the chance of not paying, etc.

    While the residents will end up paying a lot, I see little benefit.. very few spots will be freed up because of it.

    I think the meter solution is not bad, but I do not see it as solving the problem. Perhaps one of the other solutions mentioned will work.. perhaps in tandem with meters..

  24. Can L'man Achai give out parking meter key chains like they do for the shopping carts?!

  25. @Rafi
    You said: I am not sure what is gained by parking meters. Nobody is going to avoid shopping because of the extra fe shekels it will cost to park. People need to shop and that is where the shopping is.

    True, but give people the choice whether to save their money or their time. That way, no one can complain with good reason. You don't like the meters, come when the parking is free. You don't like driving round till you find a space, so come when it costs.

    I love your idea of park and ride - except when was the last time you saw an open field - we're not in Elstree now!

  26. I moved to RBS because it was a suburb. Meters Kill suburbs. Meters are for Large cites that have a lot more traffic. I view the entire RBS like my home. I don't have to pay parking meters at my house or if I drive to a friend or shul or the Matanas. I don't want to pay meters for Shopping. It's a rip off, a pain in the neck looking for change when you have kids screaming lets go or babies crying. Then if you are in a store and your meter is about to expire you have to run out feed the beast you can forget to buy certain things (not good for sales) Meters kill suburban life. In "S'dome" they had laws charging visitors fees too.

    This is overall BAD for the local economy too, as it gives people one less reason to come shop in RBS and go to places that don't have meters like Birchat HaRama, BIG etc...
    I and many people I know used to go to Brachs in the 5 towns NY to avoid meters on Central Ave.

    Another solution MUST be found. The best idea when planning a new city like RBS is Zoning laws, so that when stores are built you REQUIRE and put aside parking spaces. "Ezeh Hachacham Haroeh et Hanolad" Plan Plan Plan! There is NO excuse not to. For a short term solution perhaps combine different ideas.

    1. You could have a sign 2 hour FREE parking limit. That should be enough for most shoppers and clear up the 50 spots of employes. Ideally it would be nice if they can also park there but since there is a problem customers come 1st ALL the time! It stinks for the employes but it's good for shoppers/customers, and therefore good for business and the employees Jobs. Some poor person have to enforce this law, perhaps putting a warning note or sticker on a car parked there all day 1st then going to the next step if necessary. Avis should get a lot nearby somewhere and drive people to their car.

    2. If spots can be added on side streets parking cars sideways go for it, as many as can be done.

    3. The little hill between the stores is cute but If you can get more spots you may want to do it for now. Maybe even dig down and build up 1 or 2 levels so you have 3 or 4 levels.

    4. What about the mountain next to Ramat Shilo behind the stores? That's more space.

    5. Yes make a large multi level parking garage across the street. If that land is ever developed you will need more parking there anyway.
    If you finance it, it will eventually pay off.

    6. make sure when new buildings are planned there is enough parking for that building.

    I grew up in Monsey my wife in Oceanside Long Island Suburbs.
    EVERY store has parking. They Zoning Laws ensuring parking when new construction is done and they enforce it. That's what makes it so wonderful warm and Home friendly, and not like an overcrowded busy city. I don't want RBS to become Boro Park. (with regards to traffic)

  27. If they would put in meters and we didn't have a parking issue, THAT would be taking more money from the "rich" Anglos. But we're discussing a real problem that exists. So if someone suggests a solution that costs money, you can agree or disagree with the solution, but it's not in order to take money from the rich Anglos. Sometimes a solution has to cost money. It also depends on what the partking meter revenue goes towards. If it was earmakred specifically for RBSA improvements, then that would be some consolation.

    I like the some hours free, some hours not idea. The problem with having change can be avoided with the pay and display system since those ticket machines give change. There is also Easy Park (http://www.oti.co.il/content.aspx?id=41#Case), an electronic parking tag which counts off the time and deducts money in the account. I use it in Yrslm all the time. What's great is if you end up taking longer in line at checkout, you don't have to run out to put more money in or buy a new ticket, it'll just keep counting. You stop it when you get back to your car and you only pay for the time you used.

    As for employee parking, I agree they should park at the outer periphery of the merkaz if their car is just going to sit all day anyway.

    I think the rental companies should definitely store their cars in a remote area too, as Avis used to when they were on Sorek. This is the tricky part though: How do you know if that marked rented car is being stored by the rental company, or presently being rented by someone who's visiting the merkaz?

    Whatever spaces can be added on side streets, removing some of the grass area, etc., should also be considered.

    Last point is about traffic flow. N. Zohar should be one way the other way, so that you can circle around again without having to go back out to Sorek.

  28. The big problem in the mercaz is that much of the shopping is done in the supermarkets where you just can't walk a shopping trolley/cart with a week's groceries for a half km treck or on a park & ride.
    It is very hard to walk all the way to the back row of spaces with a cart and then return it to the supermarket to get your 5 sheks back, especially with a brood of kids in tow.
    I think that the grassy hill in the middle should be replaced with a turning circle for taxis to pick up and drop people off. That would clear up all the spaces that are currently blocked by hovering taxis.
    And can anyone explain why there are now red/white stripes no parking outside yaa'leh bakery on the main road?? Another few parking places lost.
    In the end, if i can't get a space after one drive round, i'll do my shopping elsewhere.

  29. Generically, RBS has become a hard place to get around. Hard to get out of to route #1 for morning commute, hard to get back into in the evening (the nightmare traffic circles), and hard to get to the stores.

    Easy early fix to parking #1

    There are 3 parking lots in the mercaz that are lightly used, one of which is just closed. Those 3 lots should turn into employee parking. (Yes I know they're owned, negotiate with the owners - offer them an arnona discount for use of their space.)

    Easy parking fix #2

    Set up a shoppers shuttle bus through RBS-A. And yes you could charge for it. Specifically circle Dolev and the farther out areas, those are the people that basically have to drive, giving them an alternative. Promote it in a big way - like try to get store coupons that are given out on the bus.

    Longer term fixes are needed - and with more housing coming online the problem is going to get worse. But these would give some short term relief.

  30. According to my numbers there are *well* over 4,000 families in RBS-A and there are three Kupot Cholim. I'm fairly certain there are way more than 45 shops, especially with all the basement stores.

    I counted only 200 parking spots - woefully under-allocated, but almost within the building code.
    There are very specific laws that govern how many parking spots are needed for a shopping center (based on square meterage). For example, BIG, built twice the minimum amount required ('cause as a for-profit company, they know what is needed :-).

    Anyway, it *may* be worth it to *catch* the Iriya in a planning mistake. This means counting up *all* the square meterage that is currently being used for commercial purposes and checking how many spots would then be required. According to our estimate, the Iriya was pretty close, though it looked like 10 - 30 spots low. The City Architect, told me (many years ago), that they *did* allocate enough. However, I think they used a whole bunch of tricks - for example, of course they don't have to allocate spaces for the basement stores - since they're officially illegal (unless we discover the Iriya is charging them commercial Arnona!).

    Then, there's the school - which also takes up spots and I'm sure Misrad HaChinuch has a Teken for that (but, since they're caravans, they probably don't have to allocate any yet). BTW, that's an interesting long term solution, to appropriate some land from Misrad Hachinuch - anyway ...

    Banning car rentals and store employee parking - difficult, but definitely not impossible. The Iriya can require the stores to register all employees and their cars'.

    It takes some coordination with Misrad HaRishui and the Iriya would have to re-register every 3 months. It would add a *lot* more spots, more than I believe any of us realize. The Iriya may even be able to open up the underground parking Dona for the mployee parking. Maybe give Dona a discount on Arnona - bartering for the spots.

    The 2-hour parking limit, if enforced correctly, will also do the trick, really a good solution.

    Taxis should be allocated a place - and have it enforced.

    Delivery trucks should be limited to certain times (and places).

    The buildings should be required to allow underground parking during certain times (and/or employee parking), especially those that have stores (which all do I believe). Or force the rental companies to use them?

    Move at least one of the "temporary" school across Kishon and make a huge parking lot.


    -Ephrayim Naiman

  31. If the goal is to limit employees' and rental companies' use of the spots, then a two-hour time limit, strictly enforced (tickets on first offense!) should do the trick. I also firmly believe that, in a shopping center starved for parking, we simply can't afford that big open plaza by the supermarkets, lovely as it is. Raze the whole thing, and turn it into a nice-sized parking lot. This would be particularly helpful because those spots would be especially convenient to those shopping at the supermarkets. Those who are shopping at smaller stores or in the medical building would more likely park in the other spots.
    By the way, if we are already rebuilding parts of the parking lot maybe we could make it more shopping-cart accessible?
    As far as the shuttle-bus options, it is an interesting idea, but most people who are in the habit of using their cars would not buy in. Also, anyone doing a large amount of shopping would want to have their cars nearby to get all of their purchases back home.

  32. Meters would keep more customers away from the businesses in the Merkaz. We are suffering from the economic downturn as it is...why add more salt to the wounds?

    Get rid of the grassy area, and turn it back into parking spaces like it used to be.

  33. My sense is that the rental car companies are big drain on things. I agree with the earlier point made that these cars should indeed be easily identifiable by their stickers.
    I think the parking meter things would be more of a hassle than a help.
    Isn't their parking under Yesh? Can't that be used?

  34. Razing the grassy area would be a fulfillment of "They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot...oooh" (Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell) and I hate that song so G-d help us all, and please don't do that.

    Not that I think that the grassy knoll is paradise (would any of us know what a knoll is if it weren't for Kennedy?) but let's put it this way; it wouldn't contribute to the somewhat pleasant atmosphere of shopping in Small. Hey, Beit Shemesh has got Big, so I figure we've got Small, or is it Katan?

    As it stands now let's say you're doing a price comparison between shefa shuk/zol poh and yesh/aleph/zol lemehadrin/birkat rachel, whatever. All you have to contend with now when dashing across Small Plaza is a couple of kids on scooters and a grandmother pushing a Bubbee cart. Can you imagine if the gansa thing was a parking lot! You'd have to ask the Puerto Rican parking lot attendant (they were king of parking lots and replacement hubcaps where I came from) for a personal escort just to get to the other side.

    Don't you go accusing me of being a naysayer. Here's brilliant solution #1. Have a contest to guess the name of the next supermarket to take over from shefa shuk or yesh. You pay a certain amount for a ticket, the winner wins free parking for life (non-transferable, of course) and all the proceeds go to builing an underground parking lot below the grassy knoll.

    A lot has been said about meters. Here's my two cents, which incidentally is good for 48 seconds of parking based on Simon's proposal of 3 sheq/half hour and an exchange rate of 4 sheq/USD. You do the math, or better yet, stop in at Cheerfully, have a free coffee, and see if you can get eight agurot for your two cents. But (a) I digress, and (b) you'll never get a spot anyways so why bother?

    In a city like Jerusalem or Tel Aviv where there are hundreds, if not thousands, of parking meters, there is a whole infrastructure in place for installation of the meters, collection, enforcement etc. It would hardly be cost effective for iriyat beit shemesh to purchase, install, collect, and enforce metered parking when this would be the ONLY place in the whole darn city that has them, for that matter, probably Mateh Yehuda too! I can just see some iriyah worker on a moped making his rounds from the petting zoo in Yishi, to Me'arat Ha'teomim, to RBS Small collecting the day's revenues.

    Brilliant solution #2: speaking of mateh yehuda...road 10 is still under dispute. Close if off once and for all and there's your parking lot. You've got an easy 200-300 spaces there. It's a 3 minute shuttle to Small and this would also end the machlokes once and for all between Beit Shemesh and Mateh Yehuda.


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