The parking maze in downtown Provo may become decipherable if the City Council agrees to a uniform two-hour parking proposal, parking committee officials say.

The committee is also recommending the city eliminate restrictions on parking by employees and students, and increase fines for parking violations from $3 to $5 to help resolve the downtown parking problem that seems to surface every year.The council will review the downtown parking proposal in a public hearing at 7 p.m. April 18 in the City Center.

Raylene Ireland, parking committee chairwoman, said the city has one-hour, two-hour and four-hour parking limits on various blocks throughout the downtown, and many customers become confused and disgruntled with the checkerboard time limits.

"Parking is a complex thing. There is not an ideal standard that fits everyone," she said. "We wanted to find what parking limit best suits the needs of the customer and client downtown, and found that the two-hour limit is the most workable."

Provo Police Capt. Duane Fraser, a member of the parking committee, said the varied time limits are nearly impossible to enforce, particularly the four-hour limit. He said the two-hour limit would be fair and manageable.

The uniform time limit would primarily affect Center Street from Fifth West to Second East and University Avenue from Fifth North to Third South as well as city-owned blocks.

Not restricting employees and students from parking would make enforcement easier for police cadets, Fraser said. Cadets presently carry a computer printout of employee and student license plate numbers for ticketing.

With such a listing, parking enforcement becomes more rigid for employees and students than for others who park downtown, he said. "Enforcement is very arbitrary."

Linda Walton, executive director of the Association of Involved Merchants, said the restrictions discourage employees and students from shopping downtown on weekends and days off.

"We need to start remembering that there are 5,000 employees in downtown and they do their shopping while they are here, whether that's for lunch or other services. That is a very large group of people to discriminate against."

An increase in fines for parking violations is proposed because "the $3 fee sent the message we were not serious about the problem," Ireland said. "We found the lowest fee was $7 in other cities Provo's size. We felt it was past time to raise the parking violation fee."

In a downtown Provo parking survey conducted by the merchants association, 77 percent of the respondents thought there should be a time limit for customer parking. Most said two hours is an adequate time limit.

AIM interviewed 399 Utah County residents in the survey, which is 95 percent accurate in reflecting attitudes, said surveyor Michael Call.

More than 190 respondents said the city should provide a parking terrace without any time limit. That and the two-hour limit for all of downtown were the two most popular among respondents.

The majority of people interviewed said they do not have difficulty finding a good parking place, but 39 percent say they do have difficulty.

Overall, 67 percent of Utah County residents were happy with the parking situation downtown, but some modifications to current parking regulations seem popular, the study shows.

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Poll results

Provo's Association of Involved Merchants polled residents on the question, "How long a time limit is adequate for parking?" A large majority thought two hours was adequate:

Time Respondents

4 hours 22

3 hours 28

2 hours 199

1 1/2 hours 6

1 hour 43

45 minutes 2

30 minutes 9