Mayor Aspacher statement: Downtown Free Parking

In August of 2019, Mayor Edwards and City Council announced an early parking holiday that removed the charge to park within city owned parking lots and at on-street meters.  This was done in an effort to welcome people back in to the downtown area following two years of extensive construction.  During this time we have seen that parking enforcement can be successful and still occur without a meter or kiosk, and there has been a very positive response to free parking in these areas.  I applaud the Police Division for their hard work and dedication in re-working how they enforce the parking laws.  As a result of these outcomes, I am asking City staff to begin taking steps to make this arrangement permanent.

This decision did not come easily.  There are numerous pros and cons to this issue and in making this decision I have talked with staff, downtown property owners, business owners, and everyday residents.  In removing the fee to park I hope to remove any barriers that may prevent residents and those visiting our community from enjoying our wonderful downtown. This does come with a financial impact and I recognize that.  We will be selling the kiosks and associated hardware in order to recoup some of the costs of that system.  Further, the City will save money with on-going maintenance to kiosks, the associated equipment, and the parking meters, as well as tax savings.  Additionally, because there would be no need to attend to meters, kiosks, collect money, replenish receipts, etc…, we will realize additional savings by reducing the number of full-time employees required to perform parking related functions.

Once this goes in to effect, downtown residents will now be able to obtain a parking permit at no charge so that they may park in a city owned lot overnight.  Those downtown residents interested in obtaining a permit will need to visit the Police Division as they normally would, the only difference is that they will be asked to show proof of residency.  I ask that downtown residents and merchants utilize the 10-hour parking areas, leaving the 3-hour parking areas for visitors of our downtown.