Salt Lake City considers charging more, extending hours for metered parking

Published: Tuesday, May 8 2012 9:17 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — It may soon be more expensive to park on the street in Utah's capital city, particularly on weekday evenings.

Mayor Ralph Becker has proposed increasing the cost for metered parking by 50 cents per hour — bringing the hourly rate to $2 — and extending the cutoff hour for meter enforcement from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

"Salt Lake City has a real downtown, and we're a real city," said David Everitt, Becker's chief of staff. "It's time for us to put on our big boy pants and treat our parking situation the way you should in a big city."

The proposed fee increases would generate nearly $1.6 million in additional revenue in fiscal year 2013, city officials said.

But it's not just about revenue, Everitt says. The goal is to change the culture of downtown parking. People who are planning to be downtown for several hours should be using parking garages — including those at City Creek Center and the Gateway — rather than on-street, metered stalls.

Those spots, he said, should be reserved for people who need them for less than two hours.

"We have nearly 25,000 off-street parking stalls available in Salt Lake, whether it's a surface lot or structured parking in a garage," Everitt said.

Currently, Salt Lake City offers two hours of free parking in metered stalls after 6 p.m. on weeknights and all day on weekends. Saturday and Sunday parking would remain free under Becker's proposal, though there was some discussion by the City Council on Tuesday about adding meter enforcement on Saturdays as well.

Natasha Stoker, manager of Maxwell's East Coast Eatery at 9 Exchange Place, said she worries that requiring people to pay to use on-street parking until 10 p.m. will hurt her business.

"We already have a hard time finding parking for people who want to come and eat here," Stoker said. "(Charging for on-street parking) until 10 at night is going to be really rough."

Del Vance, owner of the Beerhive Pub at 128 S. Main, also isn't a fan of the proposed changes. He worries that encouraging people to park in garages at City Creek and The Gateway will prevent them from leaving those shopping centers.

"If everybody parks at the mall, they're probably going to stay there," Vance said.

City leaders, however, say the proposed changes are designed to help local businesses.

Councilman Soren Simonsen said an ongoing concern about on-street parking has been stalls being used by employees of downtown businesses rather than customers.

"They may be working a 6 p.m. to midnight shift, and they take up the parking stalls," Simonsen said. "All of a sudden, (those metered parking stalls) can't be used by customers who are just there for an hour for dinner or shopping."

The Salt Lake City Council is considering the proposal as part of Mayor Becker's $203 million budget. The council has until the end of June to vote on the budget and potential revisions to it.

Contributing: Richard Piatt and Peter Samore

E-mail: jpage@desnews.com

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