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Business upset over proposed downtown parking fee increase

Posted October 19, 2015

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— 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.


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  • Mitch Meyers Oct 20, 2015
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    I've never seen a city so intent on stifling its own economy

  • Jon Gregory Oct 20, 2015
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    I agree Amanda, I HATE going downtown! And now there's one more reason not to.

  • Catherine Edwards Oct 20, 2015
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    Let's see. Free music downtown City Plaza on Thursdays in the summer. Or free music at North Hills on Thursdays.
    Oh wait! I have to pay $5 to see the music at City Plaza. The other one is truly free. I'll go to that one.

  • Jack Harris Oct 20, 2015
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    Does not Raleigh have a City Jail?? Put the inmates to work cleaning the Parking Garages!!

  • Amanda Dean Oct 20, 2015
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    I rarely ever go downtown because parking is such a hassle. If they start charging for parking, rarely will turn into NEVER!!

  • John McCray Oct 20, 2015
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    I imagine the tip at most of the restaurants is much more than $5.

  • Aaron Whaley Oct 20, 2015
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    Somebody pays for "free" parking, TANSTASFL. Time for the people that use it to pay for it. If $5 is going to cause you NOT to visit places in downtown Raleigh I feel sorry that you are so impecunious that it causes such a hardship. FWIW when we stay in downtown Raleigh, which we do at least twice a year, we pay for parking. It is what it is.

  • David McCabe Oct 20, 2015
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    It would be worth a few dollars if the City of Raleigh would actually clean the wizz out of the elevator and corners of the parking garage. I don't think that will happen regardless of whether this passes, but it would be worth it...

  • Chip Dipson Oct 20, 2015
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    If they're going to charge for city-owned decks do you not think they'll also charge for city-owned streets?

    Uber, ftw

  • Mark Hubbard Oct 20, 2015
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    Well then enjoy your free Olive Garden breadsticks...I hear they have plenty of free parking. You could also learn to parallel park...street parking is and will still be free on the weekends.