Friday, February 5, 2010

Downtown parking citations enforced on Saturday now

Workers upset by fines By Nancy DeVille • THE TENNESSEAN • February 5, 2010 Some Nashville drivers are not feeling the need to feed the downtown parking meters on Saturday. And the city has the citations to prove it. Since the Saturday meter parking enforcement went into effect last month in portions of downtown, Metro Public Works patrol officers have issued more than 200 tickets in the past few weeks. Parking hours and limits on Saturday include meters in the area bordered by James Robertson Parkway, Rosa L. Parks Boulevard, Broadway and Second Avenue North. The meter's rate in these areas is $1.50 an hour. Jeni Curlin who works part time at the Wild Horse Saloon says she searches for ways to avoid the parking meters. She's forced to leave her Hermitage home about 45 minutes prior to her shift just to find a place to park her car. Curlin often lands a spot in a loading dock or sometimes simply takes a risk at parking at a meter without paying, hoping not to get a parking ticket. "I don't have eight hours of change and can't leave work every two hours to feed the meter," she said. "I can't afford to spend half my salary on parking. "It's much more difficult to park now than it was before. I understand what they are trying to do, but tourists don't park at meters. Locals are the ones getting hurt by this." The Metro Traffic and Parking Commission approved the use of the Saturday meters during its November meeting. Public Works recommended the change to encourage more turnover at meters, making street parking available to more downtown visitors and patrons. A recent study of the area showed nearly 100 percent occupancy rates on Saturday, instead of the ideal 85 percent, said Gwen Hopkins-Glascock with Metro Public Works. "We want to avoid having folks monopolizing the downtown meters for longer than they should," she said. "We need to create that turnover for visitors and patrons of the downtown businesses." Hopkins-Glascock said those who will be downtown for an extended time should consider parking in one of Metro's garage facilities either at the Main Library or the Metro Courthouse. Saturday enforcement could generate an additional $30,000 a month. Annually the nearly 2,000 parking meters operated by Public Works contribute about $1.1 million. "When we were taking a look at all of our rev programs to see what we could do to help with the budget, this was one that seemed easy," said Hopkins-Glascock. Metro Public Works enforced meter parking on Saturdays until 2003 when a special ordinance was passed by the Metro Council to amend the law to exclude Saturdays, Hopkins-Glascock said. It expired in 2004, but wasn't reinstated until last month.

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