by Max Marbut
The laws governing parking at meters Downtown changed more than two weeks ago, and some merchants say there has been little impact on business so far.
City Council passed some amendments to the parking ordinance in early December that relax restrictions on feeding meters and allow drivers to move their vehicles to nearby parking places without fines.
Vikki Wilkins, co-owner of the UPS Store on Hogan Street, said her holiday business was about the same as last year. The only change she noticed was how Parking Enforcement employees are treating people who use the loading zone in front of the store.
“Parking Enforcement has been really cooperative,” she said. “When a customer arrives, we give them a sign to put on their vehicle to indicate they are our customer.
“Before the changes, we had seen tickets written before the customer could get into the store to get the sign. But since the laws changed that has not been a problem. The new attitude on the part of Parking Enforcement has helped us more than anything.”
Paul Shockey, co-owner of Burrito Gallery on Adams Street, said he hasn’t noticed a change in his business, mainly because most of his customers are office workers who don’t need a place to park in the middle of the day.
“We’re a lunch place and people walk here from their office. Our dinner business isn’t really affected by parking because at night, people don’t have to pay to park on the street, so it’s not a problem.”
Shockey said he has noticed a difference in terms of enforcement. It’s been more lenient.
“I haven’t seen the people who write the tickets hovering around the meters waiting for them to expire,” he said. “I haven’t seen them walking through the surface lot next to the restaurant checking tag numbers.”
Roy Thomas at Jacobs Jewelers on Laura Street said a lot of his customers drive Downtown during the week to shop at his store and so far, he hasn’t noticed much change in parking availability.
“We still have customers calling us on their cell phones to tell us they’re driving around looking for a place to park,” said Thomas. “I still don’t see how letting people feed the meters is going to help that.”