Downtown parking holiday concludes with new rules

Police enforcement enters low-tech interim phase
The new low-tech parking payment system sits next to the black plastic wrapped high-tech system it replaces at the corner of Egan Drive and Main Street on Tuesday.

You might have noticed some new signs around downtown Juneau. Or, you might have noticed a parking ticket on your dashboard. Either way, the rules have changed when it comes to parking downtown, City Manager Kim Kiefer said.

 

After the final failure of the city’s high-tech parking system, Juneau drivers enjoyed a parking holiday downtown. That ended at the beginning of February when the city began enforcing its new Parking Management Zone rules.

All free street parking within the zone defined by Main Street, Marine Way, Admiral Way, South Franklin Street and Fourth Street is limited to two consecutive hours, Kiefer said.

Anyone parking more than two hours downtown must move to one of three pay-to-park lots. Juneau Police Department officers are noting license plate numbers, and tickets are $25.

“If you move up two blocks and think you can park for two more hours, you’re going to get a ticket,” Kiefer said.

The off-street lots are at the corner of Main Street and Egan Drive, the corner of North Franklin Street and Second Street, and spaces 5 through 20 in the Marine Parking Garage. Spots in these lots cost 75 cents per hour, payable at old-fashioned boxes with holes that correspond to parking spaces.

“We wanted to go as low-tech as possible,” Kiefer said. “In the paid lots, you can park for as long as you pay. Once your money runs out, you will get ticketed in those spaces.”

At its Jan. 23 meeting, the Downtown Business Association made parking, and the issues surrounding it, its top priority. Business owners at the meeting said they were getting complaints from customers who could not find a place to park. Because of the parking holiday, everyone had camped their car downtown, and spaces rarely freed up, they said.

Silverbow Bakery owner and DBA president Jill Ramiel said at the meeting that she was having problems with people using her small parking lot to patronize other stores or restaurants because no other spots were available.

Shoefly + Hudsons owner Sydney Mitchell said she was getting customer complaints about a lack of parking and was considering putting “friendly boots” on people’s cars — pieces of paper with a picture of a boot and a note asking nicely for the driver to move his or her vehicle.

Shoefly Assistant Manager Jamie Ginn said Tuesday that during the parking holiday some Shoefly customers told her they would no longer come downtown because it was too difficult to find a parking spot.

“Especially when the weather’s bad, who wants to park by the Twisted Fish and walk?” Ginn said.

She’s seen an improvement in the parking situation since the city changed its rules at the beginning of the month, she said. Shoefly employees had purchased parking passes in one of the downtown garages and weren’t able to use them because the lot was always filled by people without passes, she said. Once JPD started ticketing, “it took like two days before people realized” and stopped parking in permitted spaces, she said. Now, Shoefly employees have no problem finding spaces in the garage.

Every space in the Downtown Transportation Center Parking Garage has been sold to permit holders, city Parks and Recreation administrative officer Lindsey Brown said. It has not been oversold; everyone who has a permit should be able to find a space at any given time.

The Marine Parking Garage, attached to the Downtown Public Library, still has permits available. A permit costs $15 for a week, $50 for a month or $550 for a year. Permits can be purchased in room 218 of City Hall.

Brown said she’s gotten a lot of feedback on the new parking rules.

“Some of it good, some of it bad, some of it confused,” she said. “You’re used to doing something the same way for a long time.”

Many people are glad the city is able to enforce parking rules now, she said.

“They’re awfully glad we’re able to do something now,” she said. “People were bucking the rules and they knew they were bucking the rules and there was nothing to be done about it.”

Kiefer said the parking plan is still in flux, and will be changed down the road, probably back to a system similar to the one provided by Aparc, but “right now we don’t have that capability.” The city is preparing litigation against the parking system company.

In the meantime, “we are really trying to change the bad behaviors people have gotten into with people in parking spaces they haven’t paid for,” Kiefer said.

The current system will be in place for “up to the next year,” she said.

“This is kind of an interim solution until we can figure out what can happen with the rest of the parking program,” Brown said. “It’s not going to be a quick process. But we want to make sure we’re getting a good solution this time.”

More information about the new downtown parking system can be found online at www.juneau.org/parksrec/parking.php. Contact Brown with comments or questions by calling 586-5226.

• Contact reporter Katie Moritz at 523-2294 or at katherine.moritz@juneauempire.com. Follow her on Twitter @katecmoritz.

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