Gainesville to hike rates for downtown parking

The price of on-street parking on some of downtown Gainesville’s most popular streets will rise as part of changes passed Thursday night by the Gainesville City Commission.

The parking rate resolution, which affects metered parking spaces as well as city-owned surface lots and garages, sets maximum rates and time limits. The commission voted 5-2 to pass the resolution with very limited comments.

The parking rates were last changed in 2004. They needed to be overhauled in order to standardize rates and time limits, and those changes should help increase ease and availability of parking in downtown, Malisa McCreedy, director of the city’s department of mobility, told the commission at a July 12 special meeting.

Parking on parts of central downtown streets, including Main Street, First Street and Third Street, will be limited to two hours and will cost up to $1 per hour. Currently, on-street parking on those streets is between 25 cents and 50 cents an hour.

“We are not talking blocks and blocks,” McCreedy said in July. “We are talking very few streets.”

Parking meters further out from downtown will be 50 cents per hour, while other city street parking further will continue to be free.

“You still have ample free parking within a reasonable walking distance,” she said.

Although the resolution allows the city garages to charge up to an $1 per hour to park, McCreedy told the commissioners that the plan is to lower the garage spaces to 50 cents an hour. Monthly, quarterly and yearly parking rates at the garages are expected to remain unchanged.

The city wants to drive more people to park in the garages by lowering the garage rates and increasing the costs of prime on-street parking spaces, McCreedy said.

“Have your on-street more [expensive] than your off-street because you want to drive long-term parking to your off-street facilities,” she told commissioners in July.

Parking at off-street surface lots owned by the city will be capped at four hours with a maximum charge of $1 per hour. The time limits and higher on-street prices are intended to help free up spaces on the streets.

“These are two-hour spaces, and you want higher prices in order to ensure there’s always one or two spaces available on the curb,” McCreedy said. “That way there’s always parking available for folks trying to get to the businesses they are trying to get to.”

A 2021 survey found that making it easier to find public parking was the No. 2 mobility concern of Gainesville residents.

“I think the more we can drive towards the garages, the better experiences everybody is going to have,” Mayor Lauren Poe said in the July meeting. “I think folks, they get used to parking in a garage; it becomes part of their routine.”

The new rate structure is expected to yield approximately $225,000 in additional revenues a year.

Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos suggested during the July meeting that some of those additional revenues may need to go toward additional street lighting and possible additional trash collection in those areas.

Hayes-Santos also said he was supportive of parking changes because they should help reduce the amount of people circulating the streets looking for parking and as a result reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is one of the things we can do as a city to help with lowering greenhouse gases,” Hayes-Santos said.

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