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