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City of Evanston Funds Sustainability Improvements and Garage Repairs with Data-Driven Policy Making

Updated: Oct 25, 2022

The Challenge

In the summer of 2021, the City of Evanston was tasked with:

  • Enhancing their Climate Action and Resilience Plan by installing and updating EV charging equipment and identifying locations for bike racks

  • Funding improvements and repairs at downtown garages

In order to fund these improvements and additions, the City wanted to establish new, reliable revenue streams while maintaining affordable parking for residents and visitors.

The Objective

  • Provide funding assistance for sustainability additions and garage improvements through a new $1 rate for the first hour of parking in downtown garages

  • Reduce traffic and incentivize turnover at the popular lakefront location by charging for on-street parking

  • Provide workers and visitors with increased flexibility and affordable rates


  • Congestion decreased, turnover increased, and more people were able to visit the lakefront area because of the introduction of paid parking. The new rates generated over $90,000 within the first three months of implementation, and are estimated to generate over $360,000 per year. Some of this money will be used to fund sustainability initiatives.

  • The City added EV charging stations, a Tesla supercharging station, and bike racks to certain downtown garages. They also made repairs to the garages, including elevator upgrades, new security cameras, and additional security personnel. These repairs and upgrades are made possible by revenue from the new $1 rate, which has generated over $40,000 this year.

Data-Based Decision Making

The City of Evanston wanted to take a data-centric approach to policy-making. They partnered with Smarking to study the impact of introducing paid parking along their Lake Michigan lakefront, as well as the impact of charging $1 for the first hour of parking at their three downtown garages.

“Smarking gives us the ability to measure and visualize - with data - the exact results of our programs and initiatives. With Smarking’s data, it became significantly easier to communicate to the public, city council, and the media what our city’s goals are and why we took the action we did.”
Mark Turenne Jr., Parking Operations Specialist

Lakefront Paid Parking

In the lakefront area during the summer months, the City wanted to increase turnover to allow more residents and visitors to enjoy the beach while still providing free parking for Evanston residents with a paid wheel tax. They settled on a $3 per hour rate during the busy summer months. But, with visibility into year-round occupancy data through Smarking’s Business Intelligence Dashboard, the City determined that a reduced, demand-based price of 50 cents per hour during the winter months was optimal, priced in-line with their other commuter lots. This dynamic pricing strategy is consistent with the City’s goal of activating select paid parking areas rather than increasing parking rates city-wide.

To test whether paid parking in the lakefront area would be successful, the City ran a pilot program from August 2nd through October 31st, 2021. Backed with Smarking’s insights into real-time and historical revenue, occupancy, and transaction volume, the City could see that the pilot was a success. With Smarking’s data in hand, they went to council and successfully obtained approval to continue with dynamically priced paid parking in the lakefront area year-round.

The city’s lakefront paid-parking program took permanent effect in April of 2022.

Downtown Garage Improvements

Beyond the success at the lakefront, the City also executed against their Climate Action and Resilience Plan when they installed and upgraded EV chargers and bike racks in certain downtown garages. They were able to fund these additions by beginning to charge $1 for the first hour of parking at certain garages. The revenue from this new rate has generated over $40,000 year-to-date. In addition to funding sustainability improvements, the added revenue is being used to fund repairs to the garages, including elevator upgrades, new security cameras, and additional security personnel.

Supporting Flexible and Affordable Parking

By introducing paid parking on the lakefront and removing the free hour at city garages, Evanston was able to decrease prices elsewhere. These decreases provide workers and visitors with increased flexibility and affordability. The City reduced rates from $2 per hour to 50 cents per hour in eight locations, and many other locations already have rates set at 50 cents per hour. All of this was done without impacting Evanston residents who paid the annual wheel tax for their vehicles.

"No other solution allows us to turn our data into insights in the same way as Smarking does. We feel confident when making recommendations to City Council knowing that we have the data to back them up."
Susie Hall, Management Analyst

To uncover opportunities for your city, chat with our team. We offer free one-on-one consultations, just grab a time on our calendar if you’re interested. By providing market-leading Business Intelligence and Yield Management solutions to the industry, Smarking has been enabling revenue increases at 2,500+ parking locations across North America.

To learn more about parking management in the City of Evanston, please feel free to contact Susie Hall, Management Analyst at


About Smarking

Smarking is a San Francisco based tech company serving commercial real estate owners, municipal governments, parking operators, and others to maximize business results for parking assets. Empowered by a team of MIT data scientists, urban mobility experts, Silicon Valley software engineers, and business professionals, Smarking’s market leading business intelligence and yield management software solution suite currently helps over 2,500+ parking locations in the USA and Canada maximize NOI optimization, tenant satisfaction, cost reduction, and enables data-driven parking policies.


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