Lori Kinnear

Downtown Parking Meters: What You Should Know

Lori Kinnear, City Councilmember, No Phone Number Available

Monday, November 7, 2016 at 8:53 a.m.

Downtown Parking Meters: What You Should Know

On Monday, Oct. 31, the City Council passed a resolution seeking to improve parking in the downtown core by increasing the number of available parking spaces for shoppers and visitors. The resolution calls for better enforcement of meter time limits to increase turnover, support for the STA Vanpool program to reduce parking spaces devoted to commuters, and future enhancements for parking opportunities downtown.

Why did Council pass this resolution?

In 2014, at the request of downtown businesses, City Council established a parking policy in the downtown retail core to limit on-street meter parking to two hours. Frequent turnover creates more spaces for downtown visitors and shoppers, encouraging them to do business downtown. Since 2014, it has been illegal for any vehicle to park at a metered parking spot beyond the maximum time allowed by the meter (between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.), but it was difficult to enforce until the City obtained electronic license plate readers. 

A recent study of parking meter usage downtown revealed that a significant number of parking spaces are occupied by the same vehicle beyond the maximum two-hour limit. These spaces are likely occupied by employees, limiting access for customers and clients.

Efficient customer access is vital to the success of small businesses in the area and will help us continue to establish a thriving downtown. This resolution was created based on feedback from downtown business and it is also supported by the Downtown Spokane Partnership.

Parking Services will be issuing warnings prior to ticketing vehicles. We want to be sure that those parking downtown are well aware of the law before they are ticketed for feeding meters.  With cooperation from all parties, there is plenty of room for short-term parkers at meters and long-term parkers in lots.

Tips for parking downtown:

  • Parking at meters in the core is limited to two hours. There are numerous all-day meters available within walking distance of most shopping, dining and office areas. There are also approximately 90 off-street parking lots downtown that can accommodate longer times and all-day parking for employees.
  • Parking meters effectively turn off after 7 p.m. (5 p.m. in some construction zones). After this time, the two-hour limit does not apply. If you park downtown for dinner and a movie after 5 p.m. and pay the meter until 7 p.m., you CAN remain parked in that spot past the 2-hour time limit.
  • Warnings will be issued prior to ticketing to aid in educating the public on the law regarding parking meter time limits.

What comes next?

As part of the resolution, Council has asked Parking Services to complete a parking study that would explore alternative parking methods in the downtown area. Options for improvements may include more angled parking; adjusted meter time limits in some areas; potential changes to loading and flex zones; and opportunities for enhanced technologies such as payment kiosks and improved smart phone and credit card payments.

The resolution also supports a pilot program between Parking Services and the Spokane Transit Authority to allow Vanpool vehicles to park at all-day meters. This recommendation would free up parking spaces that might otherwise be used by single-occupant commuters taking advantage of the Vanpool program.

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