Downtown parking will start seeing major changes beginning in December.
The Downtown Transportation Center, Juneau's new parking garage, will be open Dec. 1 at no charge through the month. There is no hourly limitation for the facility.
In another change this year, Marine Park Plaza will continue to be open for vehicles through Jan. 2.
The Marine Park garage will still require permits for the permit parking area at normal costs, however, the hourly fees are waived through December with a four-hour limit.
The free parking options are intended to get people to use the new garage and downtown for holiday shopping.
The regular rates for the Downtown Transportation Center will be $.75 an hour, $20 per week, $65 per month or $700 per year. DTC subscribers will be able to use their permits at Marine Park Garage.
Marine Park Garage is set to see a decrease in monthly fees from $60 a month to $50 per month. Other rates are $.50 an hour, $15 per week or $550 per year. Marine Park passes, unlike DTC, are not interchangeable.
"This is a work in progress," said City Manager Rod Swope. "We've got to start somewhere. We're going to keep track of everything closely. We don't want to undersell it, but we don't want to oversell it either. We don't want someone to pay for a month pass and never get a spot."
That is the first step this winter in trying to fix an overcrowded downtown as far as parking is concerned.
The next step will come perhaps in January. City Manager Rod Swope said 24 parking meter hubs will be placed downtown. Each spot downtown currently has a one-hour limit, and the city has found some people who use those spaces rotate their cars up and down the blocks during the workday, instead of using garages.
As soon as the parking meters arrive and are able to be installed, the first two hours of on-street parking will be free. People must still register their license plate at the parking meter as soon as they park. Since the meters count the time a particular licensed vehicle is parked downtown, not the spot it is in, this will limit the simple rotation of vehicles.
After two hours, the fee is $2 per hour after. Swope is excited about the system because it has digital features. He gave the example of a person in a meeting that looks like it will run long, who could call a phone number and buy themselves more time without having to run to the meter.
Dale Pernula, community development director, said the meter boxes will be located about every block and people can pay with either coins or credit card.
Swope said the new changes will allow people to go shopping or eat dinner and use on-street parking.
The meter boxes are expected in early January, however Swope said if there is too much snow on the ground they will wait to install them until it melts to manageable levels.
For questions on December's downtown parking call the city manager's office at 586-5240.
For the full downtown Parking Management Plan go to: http://bit.ly/gvLklP.
Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at email@example.com.