The Athens Banner-Herald has reported that the Athens Downtown Development Authority (ADDA) wants the county commission to raise parking prices downtown. The reasons given are to increase turnover at meters (so more people will come downtown) and to raise money for the ADDA. They also want to raise the price for parking decks and for the monthly lots.
Would somebody please go to the ADDA and slap them upside the head? Sorry to be so blunt, but if people are willing to walk an extra block or two, they can always find a metered space during the day.
There is something the ADDA needs to acknowledge. There is no compelling reason to go downtown during the day to shop. Most people would rather go elsewhere, not because of parking problems, but because they would rather pay less for comparable products. And do so without having to pay to park.
There is also a hidden burden here as many metered spaces are taken by people working in downtown businesses for minimum wage or less. Increasing the cost to the employees of these businesses results in a hidden tax.
Now, a couple of things they propose do make sense, sort of. Making people pay at meters after 6:00 PM, maybe until 11:00 PM, would make it easier to find a parking space when they want to go out for dinner downtown. But then you have to pay someone to walk around and enforce the fines. This person will likely have to deal with drunk, belligerent bar patrons. That would be fun to experience.
It also makes sense is to increase the amount of the fines for violations. Right now, it is cheaper to get a ticket than to feed a meter all day. If the ADDA really wanted to make money, they should recommend that meter parking violations really cost on football game days. Parking at a meter and getting a ticket is the cheapest way to park on game day. So why not make the game day fines $50-$100, with a boot? That will really help turnover and make some bucks.
The bottom line is that is not lack of parking that keeps people away from downtown during the day. It is lack of a compelling reason to come downtown. Raising the cost of parking will just be a disincentive.
Anyone else care to chime in?