Tucson city council leaders are currently in talks proposing to raise parking meter hourly rates downtown, and some areas near the University of Arizona campus.
The proposal not only includes raising the current hourly rates by a quarter, but also to limit parking times to two hour increments.
Parking is also currently free after 5 p.m. during weekdays, which city officials want to change. The change would have parking free until after midnight.
According to the Downtowntucson.org website, Tucson is considered to currently have less expensive rates than other cities.
“With over 13,000 spaces, parking Downtown is quick and easy. Metered street parking is less expensive than in almost any other city (free on evenings after 5pm and weekends)," the website states.
Local small merchants downtown have some questions and hesitation about the potential parking changes.
Nadia Yuhl, a bookseller at Antigone Books located on the historic Fourth Avenue downtown, has some worries about how the price hike might affect businesses along the street.
“I definitely can see it affecting most of Fourth Avenue because there isn’t any parking. We are like one of the only businesses that has a parking lot for our business, so it would make it a lot more difficult,” said Yuhl.
Not only do the proposed rate raises and limitations cause concern, but also raises the question of even finding parking due to the changes, according to Yuhl.
“Especially with the new apartment complexes that are going in, since they aren’t providing enough parking for even the people who are going there or enough people to live in their building, those people are going to be parking on the street and taking up parking from consumers,” Yuhl said.
Although the proposed changes are causing some concern for local businesses and customers, not all are against it.
One local Tucsonan and frequent Fourth Avenue customer, Tyler Montaño, believes the potential changes could generate more business overall in the downtown area.
“One thing I can see happening with these new changes if they pass is creating more customer turnover for businesses downtown and even near the U of A campus,” said Montaño. “Limiting it to two hours will make customers leave because they are shopping quicker, which helps other people find parking.”
A petition has been created on Change.org, to stop the parking proposal and currently has more than 6,000 signatures. The petition was created to urge the city council to end the proposal, until another efficient parking solution is created in the area.
“I understand why our community would be upset about the changes, and want to sign that petition, I can understand the hesitation,” Montaño said. “I am all for the changes, but at the end of the day if small local businesses believe it will hurt them, then we need to maybe stop and listen to them as well.”
Currently, the proposal is still being planned and will not be presented to the Mayor and council for another few months.
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