Business upset over proposed downtown parking fee increase
Posted October 19, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — City leaders are looking at ways to generate money to keep Raleigh’s parking decks safe and clean and one proposal would do away with free parking in downtown parking garages on nights and weekends.
Parking downtown is currently free after 7 p.m. on weekdays and all day on weekends. Many downtown restaurant and business owners said that they support cleaner and safer parking garages, but don’t want the plan to deter people from visiting the area.
Colby Kanode and his friend Christopher Chesser had a strategic plan for getting into a downtown parking garage for free.
“We pulled up here at like 6:57 p.m. and sat right there and waited until seven o’clock because I didn’t want to pay a dollar,” said Kanode.
As long as city-owned garage parking is free after 7 p.m., that strategy will work but, come Dec. 31, everything could change. A new proposal recommends charging a flat five dollar fee beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday and throughout the day on Saturday. The fee would also apply for special events on Sunday.
“It will sort of deter folks thinking of downtown as an option for dinner,” said Busy Bee Café co-owner Chris Powers. “It will ruin first Friday’s for us. It will affect businesses on multiple levels.”
Powers and co-owner David Lockwood said that they want a compromise on the proposed plan- the garages should begin charging at 9 p.m. instead of 5 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays.
“Think about how many first impressions we make in downtown Raleigh all the time. We want people to come downtown and think that it’s accessible and it’s going to be fun for families,” said Powers.
If it is implemented, the plan will also impact those using the parking garage near the Marbles Museum and other family-oriented businesses downtown.
If approved, the increased fees would help maintain the garage and go towards janitorial services and repairs. Ultimately, Lockwood and Powers said it’s about bringing people in, not pushing them out.
“There’s so many other options,” said Lockwood. “You can go to North Hills, you can go to Five Points or you can go to Cameron Village and shop on a Saturday. You don’t have to worry about five dollars just to park.”
On Tuesday, several business owners plan to attend a meeting and hope the city can come to a compromise.