On a scorching Saturday morning, a stream of automobiles is filling the pile of asphalt round a bustling downtown market. Indicators posted on the entrance to every lot learn: “$5 for two hours, $10 for 8 hours. Free parking is situated at seventh and Foremost.”
Watching drivers park their automobiles is John Hopper, a “parking ambassador” with Kansas Metropolis who has been tasked with an necessary job: telling drivers that, beginning that weekend, they’re going to should pay to park.
Hopper mentioned, “You come down right here, you simply need to seize some stuff for a number of hours and go away.” “So $5 is at all times the max, $10 is to take out individuals who’ve been parking right here all day. … We’re additionally selling free parking… and that is throughout the freeway. They get on the road automobile.” can and are available down right here and that too will keep away from an excessive amount of overcrowding by providing it.”
New paid parking on weekends impacts the principle heaps round Metropolis Market, which already require parking on weekdays. Nonetheless, the change got here as a shock to some residents, comparable to Sierra Highley, who’s a frequent Metropolis Market customer.
“We come up right here rather a lot on the weekends and it is at all times been free,” Highley mentioned. “I simply loved it, (it was) one thing enjoyable for me and my youngsters, and simply deliver a little bit bit of money. So I miss the free parking.”
The change displays a significant shift towards metropolis officers updating Kansas Metropolis’s parking insurance policies and parking preparations, starting with bustling districts comparable to Metropolis Market. Metropolis officers and parking specialists hope that putting in paid parking in high-demand areas will scale back site visitors and create extra accessible parking areas for individuals who want them.
“The primary drive is for individuals to get pleasure from their time right here for half an hour as a substitute of looking for a spot to park,” Hooper mentioned.
Later this month, the town will set up paid parking meters alongside the streetcar line. Hopefully there will probably be much less site visitors jams.
“What occurs is that folks simply circle and circle and circle, which creates overcrowding,” mentioned Kansas Metropolis parking program supervisor Matthew Macenthaler. “After which it encourages you all of the extra to seek out an unlawful or unsafe approach to get out of your car since you’ve spent a lot time and also you’re getting pissed off.”
free parking just isn’t free
Macenthaler is overseeing lots of the metropolis’s parking adjustments. He says the time has come for the town to maneuver away from its previous parking mannequin and undertake a extra fashionable strategy.
“When it is gradual we cost a little bit, however when it is busy it is free,” Mukenthaler mentioned, referring to Metropolis Market. “So from a enterprise, supply-demand, economics 101 (strategy), we’re on the upside and backwards.”
Paying for parking is the norm in cities like St. Louis, Omaha and Oklahoma Metropolis. In Kansas Metropolis, that is the exception.
Macenthaler usually hears from Kansas Residents who say that the provision of free parking is likely one of the metropolis’s points of interest. However he says persons are not contemplating its implications.
“Then I often reply, ‘Oh my god, I assume, cannot discover a parking area, it is the very best a part of Kansas Metropolis or that solely 25% of the subway inhabitants pays for a damaged system. ,” mentioned Macenthaler. “Is This the Finest A part of Free Parking in Kansas Metropolis?”
For Councilman Eric Bunch, whose district contains downtown and River Market, the change to paid parking is about provide and demand. Years in the past, when the town wasn’t as busy as it’s as we speak, it would not make sense to cost to park. Now, with a vibrant metropolis, it does.
“Sure, there could also be individuals who determine to not enter the market as a result of they should pay for it,” he mentioned. “However it’s equally true that persons are selecting to not go there as a result of they cannot discover a parking area.”
And taking away parking has come at a terrific price.
“The price of that’s $16.5 million a yr on the whole fund assist for the Parking Program,” McEnthaler mentioned. “So lots of that’s mortgage service, proper? Plenty of them are huge parking garages that we constructed and we don’t cost for parking. Parking may be very costly to construct.”
poor parking compliance
As the town requires high-paying parking in its business areas, it’s also grappling with poor parking compliance. Ideally, Macenthaler says, two-thirds of parking income comes from paid parking and one-third from citations for failure to pay for parking, parking in disabled areas, parking for greater than the allotted time and so forth. ought to come from However this isn’t the case in Kansas Metropolis.
Referring to parking citations, McEnthaler mentioned, “two-thirds of the income is coming from slaps on the wrist.” “And solely a 3rd of the funds are coming from compliance. In order that’s an issue, is not it? And it isn’t as a result of KCPD is writing too many tickets. It’s because our enforcement program just isn’t attaining the proper compliance targets.”
Kansas Metropolis Council voted in 2020 to decriminalize parking citations and create an administrative courtroom to supervise parking tickets and different non-moving violations. Nonetheless, Macenthaler says issuing the quotation is not going to enhance the town’s poor compliance.
“We do it with the lightest hand we are able to, and supply extra carrots than we have ever needed to put in sticks,” he mentioned. “It is about making a parking program for everybody. And most of the people cannot use the system if they do not comply.”
utilizing different transportation
River Market residents comparable to Kansas Metropolis’s Parking and Transportation Fee member Matt Staub hope the parking adjustments will make dense, walkable neighborhoods extra usable. A River Market resident since 2005, Staub is aware of how busy Metropolis Market will get on weekends.
“Sadly it is probably the most fascinating occasions to be right here, however the expertise is totally overwhelmed with autos,” mentioned Stubb.
Downtown Neighborhood Affiliation member Josh Boehm says he hopes the brand new parking coverage will encourage extra drivers to search for different modes of transportation.
“Persons are making an attempt different methods to get round Kansas Metropolis for the primary time and discover that it is attainable and actually fulfilling,” he mentioned.
Metropolis officers additionally hope the brand new coverage will encourage drivers to make use of different types of transportation comparable to streetcars and bus techniques, and even take into account strolling to Metropolis Market.
Parking heaps are nonetheless free on seventh and Foremost Streets. On this particular Saturday, Kansas Metropolis resident Bethany Benham took benefit of free parking and took her daughter in a streetcar to Metropolis Market.
“The time we’re approaching, I knew it could be quick and straightforward,” she mentioned. “And I’ve an 11-year-old with me. What 11-year-old does not need to journey a streetcar?”
Metropolis Market was as busy as ever that Saturday morning, an indication that the brand new parking coverage had not deterred guests. Metropolis officers are hoping that extra residents will acknowledge the advantages of the parking change and, like Benham, hand over on their love affair with vehicles – no less than throughout their visits to Metropolis Market.