Letter: Solving Asheville’s parking woes

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Thoughts for parking [in response to “Summertime and the Parking’s Not Easy: Residents Feel Downtown Parking Squeeze,” Aug. 14, Xpress]:

1. For residents and workers: Why not use some of the vacant parcels, like at the old Kmart on Patton and the Innsbruck Mall, for worker parking with a shuttle bus that runs, let’s say from 7 a.m. until 9:30 and returns at 4:30 through 6 p.m. Charge a monthly fee that is reasonable: say, $35-$50 per month so people can afford it. Pay for it out of ART funds. That should be part of our infrastructure.

2. For locals, issue a Buncombe County permit for a minimal fee so that locals can access 10% of on-street parking and the garages. Perhaps an annual fee of $50.

3. Fees at garages are too high for events. Should be reduced for at least county residents.

4. If you want us to use the lots, then make it affordable. Again, perhaps a county permit paid annually that would provide an incentive to use the parking garages. Locals should be a priority to access reasonable parking fees. Tourists should pay a bit more.

We need to encompass a countywide incentive to get citizens to come downtown rather than stay away. The parking is tough, and this is not unusual for many cities, but we need to come up with a solution for local folks just trying to utilize our wonderful independent restaurants, shops, etc. We currently are driving locals away, and there is a way to do better.

I have been in many cities like Baltimore, San Francisco and Santa Fe, with their train systems that offer free parking at distant locales to catch trains or shuttles. We could do the same if we had reliable bus/shuttle service to downtown.

I can tell you that the $20 parking fee Greenville charges at garages close to the Peace Center is abhorrent, but they get it because it is close to the theater. That is terrible and takes advantage of attendees. Yes, there are cheaper places if you want to walk a few blocks. But this is one example of excess.

— Karen Johnson


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15 thoughts on “Letter: Solving Asheville’s parking woes

  1. WeaselEyes

    Most locals avoid downtown. It’s no longer for us that live here. I have said it for years now…” you can live in Asheville, but you just can’t go anywhere”.

    • Josh

      Couldn’t agree more. I work downtown but it’s about the only time I come here. I can’t stand it anymore because of how overrun it has become with tourists. Don’t seem like the businesses want or care about local business

    • Jay m reese

      Now my calculations may be off base but if you consider there were around 4 million visitors over a one year period that would average around 11,000 tourist in our city on a given day. Compare that to the 90,000 people that live here and you can see the ratio is not that high.

  2. SpareChange

    Friendly addendum to the proposal: Get the city council to stop approving hotels downtown which have no or inadequate parking. Also get them to realize that a hotel moratorium, passed after the fact, does nothing except underscore the poor planning and decision making which brought us to this point to begin with. Not naming names (Manheimer, Wisler, Kapoor & Julie Mayfield).

  3. MG Massey

    Once they took handicapped parking away..i refuse to spend a dime downtown.
    The stole from the Cherokee.now they steal from the locals.

    This town caters to a pretensious and oblivious hedonistic ruling class.
    All hype and no truth..
    Crooked as a mountain road and just as dangerous..
    That’s Casheville

  4. luther blissett

    “If you want us to use the lots, then make it affordable.”

    For downtown workers this is a problem, but four hours’ city-lot parking = one beer (or two coffees) at typical downtown prices. (There are nearly 1,000 city and county lot spaces available as I write this.)

    The small amount of free on-street parking downtown — e.g. Coxe Ave or S French Broad — and free on-street parking after 6pm creates a baseline expectation that there must be free space *somewhere*. This in turn encourages drivers to cruise for spaces, and adds to frustration when they’re already full. Arguably, the city ought to remove on-street parking entirely and make deals with owners of underutilized private lots for access to spaces during big events and predictable peaks. That might disappoint towing companies, but they can find other ways to make money. In short: why assume that you have the right to take up 320 square feet of downtown without paying for it?


    • luther blissett

      Residents of where exactly?

      (There are 1057 spaces in lots right now.)

  5. Jay Reese

    There is plenty of parking. What we and every other city lack is citizens who are willing to walk. Our bodies are meant to move not sit in automobiles

    The worldwide trend is to remove cars and their parking spaces from our urban centers. The city streets work best when designed around the pedestrian

    • luther blissett

      Asheville can’t even pedestrianize Wall Street, and the decision to bail out the Flatiron owner will probably make it impossible to do so in future. I’m fine with strategies that accommodate deliveries, such as bollard-style barriers that can be lowered, but removing on-street parking from the core of downtown — Patton and College, Haywood and Rankin and Lexington and Biltmore/Broadway — and widening the sidewalks would be a start.

      • Jay m reese

        I agree governments are slow to respond. That is why I focus my attention on individual actions. If we could get a ground swell of self motivated action with people leaving their cars parked and took to the streets on foot, bike or bus the situation would drastically improve even before the various government agencies responsible for transportation responded with the appropriate infrastructure development

    • MG Massey

      What about disabled folks who cannot walk?
      Oh…I forgot..Asheville is only meant for those without spinal injuries

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