Free parking spots to disappear in downtown Raleigh
Posted November 24, 2008 4:47 p.m. EST
Updated November 24, 2008 6:20 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — Hundreds of free parking spaces on downtown streets will likely disappear in the coming months as city officials look to implement a comprehensive parking strategy.
City parking administrator Gordon Dash said he wants to transform nearly 400 spaces, including many on Fayetteville and Wilmington streets, into paid parking spaces. The goal is to keep drivers moving in and out, he said.
"The system as it currently stands makes parking look like a very adversarial system," Dash said. "The only way you can get people to turn over (spaces) is to issue tickets, and that's unsavory and I don't want that to continue."
Mayor Charles Meeker last year appointed a task force to develop a comprehensive downtown parking plan. The panel forwarded its recommendations to the City Council last week, and the council is expected to take up the issue by mid-January.
The panel called for expanding parking meters downtown, including metering spaces in the Glenwood South area and along Hillsborough Street. Rather than use "single-head meters," the city would use machines that would let people purchase up to two hours of time in a parking space from machines that would accept credit and debit cards in addition to cash.
Parking rates also would increase to $1 for one hour of parking and $2 for two hours under the plan. Hourly rates in municipal parking garages downtown wouldn't go up, officials said.
"There's room for lots of improvement," Dash said.
Downtown Raleigh Alliance President David Diaz said parking will become key to the success of the central business district. He said he will work with business owners during the next month to push the idea of additional meters.
"There's been more scientific study done to show a positive correlation between retail success and turnover on parking," Diaz said. "We've got to educate our business owners and property owners to see how (metering) would actually work because that's the only way we're going to pull this off."