Downtown Truckee parking still sparks debate |

Downtown Truckee parking still sparks debate

Greyson Howard/Sierra SunCars parked along Donner Pass Road Tuesday in front of parking meters. While the town is seeing steady improvement from the Downtown Parking District, some residents and shop keepers are questioning its utility.

TRUCKEE ” More than three years later, opinions still differ on paid parking in downtown Truckee.

Starting Oct. 17 2005, the parking meters starting popping up as a way to keep spaces turning over in front of downtown merchants and restaurants.

“From my standpoint, it’s working beautifully,” said Stefanie Olivieri, owner of multiple downtown businesses. “It’s providing twice as much parking as before.”

And from the Town of Truckee’s perspective, the parking meters are doing their job too, as the downtown parking district slowly moves from the red toward the black, said Kelly Beede, Truckee parking services manager.

Looking at July through December for 2006, 2007 and 2008, Beede said the number of transactions at the meters has steadily gone up from 139,656 to 148,088 and finally 154,841, respectively.

And that turnover means spots once taken up by shop owners and employees are now open for shoppers and diners, Olivieri said.

“Each parking space generates $400,000 a year in sales, so if employees are using them that’s lost revenue for businesses and lost sales taxes for the community,” Olivieri said.

But Dean Schaecher, new president of the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association, said that in the current economy, paid parking will be worth at least revisiting.

“In these extraordinary economic times anything we can do to get locals to come downtown we should look at,” he said. “Especially when you look at tourism with no snow.”

Siobhan Smart, owner of a number of downtown businesses and properties, agreed that paid parking keeps locals away.

“I have mixed feelings on paid parking. I think it keeps employees off Commercial Row, but I think the system is not user friendly,” Smart said.

Scheacher also said whether paid parking is necessary outside of commercial row will be worth looking at, like on West River Street, Church Street, and Jibboom Street.

Olivieri said making parking free in one place will put more employees in front of those businesses, taking those spaces away from potential customers.

Either way, most agree the pending Railyard development slated for the east end of downtown should have paid parking as well.

“We should have no paid parking or we should all have paid parking,” Smart said.

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