Durham has raised city center parking charges, closing a loophole

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A vehicle leaves the Durham Center parking garage on Tuesday afternoon, August 2, 2022, in Durham, North Carolina

kmckeown@newsobserver.com

Durham city center has had a huge parking gap for years.

Anyone leaving after 7pm or on a weekend faced a wide-open gate, meaning no matter how long they had parked – even if it was days – the stay was completely free.

That all changed on July 1 and was briefly reversed a week later after further “confusion and frustration” (as Park Durham news release put), then finally became permanent the last week of July.

The city will now keep the gates down 24/7, which Durham Park says is “in line with industry best practice.”

The new policy first came into force on the same day in Durham increased hourly and monthly parking ratesbut it was not advertised ahead of time.

“It wasn’t properly communicated,” City Councilman Leo Williams said, adding that the change caught many by surprise, especially restaurant and bar workers. “No one kept coupons because you could get free parking forever.”

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A vehicle pulls out of a parking lot on Corcoran Street on Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 2, 2022, in Durham, N.C. By Caitlin McKeown kmckeown@newsobserver.com

Parking is still free on the city center decks after 7pm and at weekends, but everyone leaving will now have their tickets checked on the way out.

“If you park at 6pm on a weekday and leave at 11pm the same day, your balance will be $2.25 for one hour between 6pm and 7pm,” the city explains on its website.

A lost ticket will cost a maximum of $24.75 per day.

Durham has installed small signs at the garage entrances explaining the new policy, though the signs are conspicuously absent at the exits, where most regular visitors will first learn they will have to pay.

There is discounted monthly passes available to those who meet income requirements. Most town lots and decks have holes.

The prices are still no better than the existing GoDurham bus fares free until at least June 2023 year.

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GoDurham buses fill the Durham station Wednesday, March 25, 2020, serving reduced fares with suspended fares and increased sanitation measures, in Durham, North Carolina Casey Toth ctoth@newsobserver.com

Parking revenue in Durham has fallen due to the COVID-19 pandemic

The city’s parking revenue has plummeted during the COVID-19 pandemic, from more than $4 million each year since 2016 to $2 million in 2020 and $2.8 million the following year, budget documents show.

City Council member Jillian Johnson expressed her opinion on raising the rate in a Twitter thread Sunday, noting that the parking fund is operating at a $2.8 million deficit last year.

“If the city does not increase parking rates, these losses, which are subsidized by our entire community, will grow every year. Is it fair for all the taxpayers of Durham, many of whom are far from the city centre, to pay even more each year for other people’s parking?” she asked.

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A vehicle leaves the Durham Center parking garage on Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 2, 2022, in Durham, N.C. By Caitlin McKeown kmckeown@newsobserver.com

Downtown Durham Inc. organized a meeting Tuesday between downtown business owners and city officials to discuss the new changes.

“The people who are going to bear the brunt of the parking rate hike are the workers who don’t make as much money,” Williams said, adding that they are looking for solutions for downtown workers but haven’t settled on one yet.

The Durham Report

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Mary Helen Moore covers Durham for The News & Observer. She grew up in eastern North Carolina and attended UNC-Chapel Hill before working in newspapers in Florida for several years. Outside of work, you can find her biking, reading, or hunting for plants.



Durham has raised city center parking charges, closing a loophole

Source link Durham has raised city center parking charges, closing a loophole