Parking can't always be free, but they can set the rules for it

Just a few days ago, the House of Representatives approved on the third reading a new bill that, if passed into law, will have a big impact on motoring. Specifically: parking.

House Bill (HB) 7725, if passed, will be known as the Parking Operations and Fees Regulation Act. HB 7725 simply seeks to standardize the fees that can be charged to pay parking customers and sets rules for the duties, standards, and responsibilities of pay parking operators.

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HB 7725 is actually an amalgamation of over 18 other individual bills that we found (there may be more) related to pay parking fees and pay parking facilities that have been filed in the lower house; it just goes to show that our lawmakers have a lot of time to devote to parking-related laws. There are actually more, but we'll get to them later on.

What is important to know is that lawmakers are “encouraging” establishments to provide free parking, but if that's not possible then they stipulated standardized fees depending on the type of establishment, as well as certain requirements that can waive fees for certain motorists/customers/clients.

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Now there are many fees, rules, and caps stipulated under the bill, and we've listed them below for your perusal:

1. Health Service Establishments (i.e. hospitals, clinics)

- 1 free parking slot/day for confined patient and/or out-patient
- Provide proof of confinement or medical services
- Max PHP 20 per hour for parking clients

2. Accommodation Establishments (i.e. hotels)

- Free parking for customers
- Proof of transaction (e.g. check-in)
- Max PHP 30 per hour for parking clients (e.g. non-guest, non-dining)

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3. Food Service Establishments (i.e. restaurants)

- First 2 hours free for customers
- Proof of transaction
- Max PHP 20 per hour after first 2 hours
- Max PHP 20 per hour for parking clients (e.g. non-dining)

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4. Educational Institutions (i.e. schools)

- Free parking for officials, employees, faculty, students, and guests
- Show necessary identification cards (e.g. school ID)
- Max PHP 20 per hour for parking clients (e.g. non-student, non-faculty)

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5. Retail Establishments (i.e. shopping malls, supermarkets)

- 2 hours free parking with minimum purchase PHP 1,000/max two receipts
- If over 2 hours, max PHP 20 per hour but cannot exceed PHP 100
- Overnight parking fee can apply

6. Corporate Offices or Facilities (i.e. CBD buildings)

- PHP 40 for the first 4 hours
- Max PHP 20 per hour in excess of first 4
- Parking fee ceiling cap of PHP 140 per day

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7. Independent Parking Enterprises (i.e. not affiliated with malls)

  A) Open Parking Establishments

  - PHP 30 for the first 3 hours
  - Max PHP 20 per hour in excess of first 3
  - Parking fee cap of PHP 100 per day
  - Overnight parking fee can apply

  B) Multilevel Parking Enterprises

  - PHP 40 for the first 3 hours
  - Max PHP 20 per hour in excess of first 3
  - Parking fee cap of PHP 100 per day
  - Overnight parking fee can apply

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8. Street Parking Fee

- For companies allowed to regulate street parking
- Max PHP 50 per hour

9. Overnight Parking Fee

- Max PHP 150 per vehicle

10. Lost Parking Ticket Fee

- Max PHP 150
- Proof of ownership required
- Refundable if the ticket is located and returned within 60 days

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So those are the fees we found in House Bill 7725. With the exception of the street parking fee, the bill sets a limit of PHP 20 per hour, which is actually a fair price, all things considered. The limit of PHP 100 for most establishments is also interesting, as is the PHP 140 limit for corporate offices. The lost parking ticket fee is also unexpected, as it effectively converts the fee into a refundable deposit if you do end up finding that ticket, like if you left it in a different pocket; something that I am sometimes guilty of.

There are three things we really like about the bill (apart from the standardized fees), the first being the Exigent Circumstances rule. Basically, this covers Acts of God-type situations like floods, volcanic eruptions, and the like. It says that establishments must waive parking fees during such disasters so motorists can shelter their vehicles. Once the disaster ends, motorists have twelve hours to retrieve their vehicles.

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The second is that the bill aims to set minimum safety and security standards for parking establishments. Things such as standard road signs, senior citizen and PWD slots, bicycle parking, speed bumps, so on and so forth are mandated. More importantly, the bill says that there should be enough security and enough CCTV cameras to be able to monitor all parked vehicles, and that's because of the third rule.

Perhaps the most important rule is a ban on the waiver of liability. You know what that is; if you've ever received a parking ticket at a mall or other location, it basically says that management will not be liable for any damage, loss, so on and so forth. Establishments will not be allowed to have that on the parking ticket anymore.

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That does not mean that establishments will be automatically liable for the damage. It just says that they have a responsibility while the vehicle is under their watch, which is fair. They will only be held liable if the safety and security standards were not met like if the vehicle damaged was not visible from a CCTV camera or if the number of security guards was inadequate. It also says that they can collect damages from the perpetrators of the act if apprehended.

As to when (or if), the bill passes into law is a matter of time. It seems that the lawmakers wanted to address motorist concerns over parking fees and parking rules, and the bill appears to have taken as much of these considerations into account. We do expect there to be some resistance from business establishments on some provisions, particularly with the waiver of liability clause.

But if you accept payment for a service, then it comes with accountability.