Pre and post-Christmas shopping, wining, and dining makes this one of Kent’s best times of year. Lots of places to eat, drink and be merry — but all those extra visitors also means a few less places to park.
And a few less places to park means that I will occasionally be on the receiving end of complaints about parking meters and charging for parking downtown.
Please keep in mind, the parking meters are ONLY on during weekdays from 9 am to 5 pm – so park for free to your heart’s content all weekend long and every night of the week.
Still, for daytime shoppers, I get it, I’d prefer not to pay for parking too, but I can hear a few of my favorite downtown merchants reminding me that the City’s economic success depends on their business success, and their business success depends on as many customers as possible coming and going all day long.
Having a vehicle parked in front of their shop for 8 hours means a lot of lost business and that’s bad for them, bad for the downtown, and bad for the local economy – all of which is bad news for the City.
I always try to explain that we brought the meters back into downtown in order to support the downtown businesses that need parking spots to turn over as much as possible — and not as some “hidden tax” to generate revenue for the City.
That often leads to the “ya right” eye roll from people who don’t believe it, but I swear it’s true.
We think supporting downtown business is a cause worth paying for and it turns out we’re not alone in that sentiment. That’s why I thought I’d pass along an article from another City that was dealing with the same issue — albeit on a bigger scale — but the logic is the same.
Hopefully it will give you a little shared insight from other cities that have drawn the same conclusion about the importance of using pricing in parking to motivate behavior that is as supportive of downtown business as possible.
Here’s a couple quotes from the article:
“Conventional wisdom, at least in Winnipeg, holds that the key to a successful downtown is making it easy for suburbanites to drive downtown and park wherever they wish. Conventional wisdom, it appears, is wrong.”
“A look at cities suggests abundant parking is not a benefit, but rather a bane, to a successful downtown, which experts say is vital to the economic well-being of all parts of a city.”
“Every great place has a parking problem, and you can often do great damage to a place by trying to solve the wrong parking problem,” he says. “The wrong parking problem is the theory there’s not enough parking. The more common parking problem is there’s too much.”
“Parking should never be free and never be without a time limit,” Toderian said. “It’s not just about revenue, it’s about supporting your downtown retailers and your traffic situation.”
Here’s the link to the full article: