At the moment, their audits show parking occupancy downtown is routinely between 70% and 90% — which McIntir said is considered higher than ideal.
“For a downtown to flourish, parking needs to be available and fluid, and it is neither of those right now,” McIntir said.
Councilmember Charlie Odegaard lamented the fact this issue had again reared its head, and placed most of the blame for the parking issues on those working downtown.
Too many employees, he says, of downtown business take up the street parking all day, thus preventing their own customers from finding a place to park.
“They’ve created this problem among themselves,” Odegaard said. “It’s like herding cats; I just don’t understand this issue where the business owners and the people who work down there don’t understand about keeping parking available for their customers.”
Odegaard said he has heard about employees parking in front of shops for eight hours a day, every day.
At the same time, McIntir said there are real concerns that if the city brought back paid parking now that it could deter locals and hurt already struggling downtown businesses. Especially after the holiday season when business ordinarily slows and the temperature drops in January, paid parking could be seen by locals as just one more barrier to shopping.