City suggests increasing downtown parking tickets, event parking

mowen@ledger-enquirer.comMay 9, 2013 

Parking tickets in downtown Columbus might get a lot more expensive, if Columbus Council approves a series of proposed changes to downtown parking policies.

The city unveiled Thursday evening a series of proposed changes that grew out of three public hearings in February and March and from consultants hired to assess parking challenges. Deputy City Manager Lisa Goodwin presented the changes to a crowd of about 20 at the Studio Theater in the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts.

Among the proposals was to hike the parking ticket fee 75 percent, from the current $20 to $35.

"To provide an incentive for people to use our parking decks, on-street parking has to be higher, has to be more expensive," Goodwin said. "Remember, this only applies to violators."

Gary Daswani, owner of Disco Fashions on Broadway, said the $35 parking fee might be a deterrent to people frequenting the district.

"The proposal to increase the parking fees from $20 to $35 is quite a bit," Daswani said. "Most of the people who get a parking ticket are customers who sometimes forget it's two-hour parking. That will affect our customers."

Another strategy to encourage people to use the parking decks would be to cut on-street parking hours from eight to four on Front Avenue, which all the parking decks face.

Encouraging the use of the parking decks may be a great idea, but not if you're a waitress walking to her car carrying her tip money, said Jennifer Gragg, assistant manager of the Cannon Brew Pub.

"I really worry about my female employees having to walk blocks when they're getting off work," she said. "Is there any way we can think about the employees?"

Goodwin said she understood her concerns, but pointed out that since the RiverCenter parking deck opened in 2000, there has been only one "incident" in the deck.

Other proposals include:

• Selling parking stickers for residents of Uptown Columbus, allowing them relaxed parking restrictions. The stickers would be only for those Uptown residents north of Ninth Street, because Parking Management Division enforcement does not extend into the district.

• Marking off motorcycle parking slots along Broadway, allowing several motorcycles to park in what was essentially one space.

• Daily parking in the RiverCenter parking deck would remain $2, but event parking would rise from $2 to $5.

• To further encourage the use of parking decks, elaborate signs would be erected at the pedestrian exits pointing people to different areas and attractions.

Goodwin said the parking proposals would be presented to Columbus Council at its May 14 meeting.

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