Ask people why they don’t go downtown to patronize restaurants and other businesses and parking issues would have to be number one on their lists.
Parking is a major pain in the rear in downtown, and the city doesn’t do anything to help. In fact, it would seem they’re doing everything they can to make it worse.
Take for example the parking area near Church Street Station under Interstate 4. Previously, the way the system worked was that you pulled into a parking space, made note of the space’s number painted on the pavement, then went to a centralized meter station to enter the number of the space and pay for the amount of time you wanted to “rent” that space. The instructions on the pay station were difficult to understand and follow — for a period of time, a homeless man would approach to offer “help” on using the system, but tended only to intimidate the patrons.
Then the city went to a system where drivers were stopped at the entrance to that lot and told to pay $5 up front, regardless of the amount of time they would be there. It was extravagant for someone who just wanted to stop in to Hamburger Mary’s for a quick bite or visit the Dessert Lady for a late night nosh, but it was easier.
Now, the system has changed again. It’s back to using the centralized pay station. But now you have to park the car, go to the pay station, try to understand the cockamamie instructions, wait for the receipt to print out, then go back to your car to put the receipt on the dashboard.
Thanks, Orlando, it sure is fun coming downtown.
Now they’re talking about doubling the fees for all city parking structures. That’ll help. They might as well tell the restaurants that are already struggling to survive to just pack it in.
What they should be doing is offering free parking as an economic boost to the downtown businesses.