While free parking spaces are making a return to downtown Gainesville, so are higher rates at the Southwest Parking Garage and some other paid parking spaces, city officials said.
The city commission on Thursday paused changes to downtown parking amid pushback from downtown parkers and business owners.
Pausing the changes will restore free two-hour parking spaces in the downtown area until at least June 1, but it also meant other changes, like cheaper rates at the parking garage, also reverted to pre-January levels, city officials said.
More than 300 parking meters and metered spaces at city-owned surface lots will need to be reprogrammed as part of the rollback, Rossana Passaniti, the city’s public information officer, said via email. It will take an estimated four to six weeks to get all the meters reprogrammed to pre-January rates.
The city also is in the process of replacing the signage to restore the free parking spaces, Passaniti. Although they will remain free through June 1, the commission has asked the city’s parking ambassadors to continue to enforce the two-hour limits on parking.
When the commission initially passed the parking changes in August, they lowered the parking garage rates and surface lot spaces to 50 cents an hour to encourage people to use the lots and garages for longer-term parking.
By changing free spaces over to $1-per-hour metered parking, the commission hoped to free up spaces in the premium parking areas of downtown.
The commission suspended but didn’t rescind the parking changes, and will seek community input before deciding how to move forward.
“Staff will continue to gather input from business owners and neighbors as we work to update the parking program for future consideration by the city commission,” Passaniti said.