Metered parking coming to town |

Metered parking coming to town

An SUV pulls into a free parking space on commercial row.

The Truckee Town Council has decided that paid parking is the answer to the downtown parking shortage.The council agreed Thursday that the town will manage and enforce the program. What parts of downtown get metered parking and what areas are left as free parking will be decided after the public works department puts together a detailed plan looking at parking lot leases, meter options and parking management.Although the council’s decision virtually ensures that parts of downtown will eventually charge for parking, the details of the changeover from free to paid parking could take time to work out, said Truckee Public Works Director Dan Wilkins.”If we go down this path, this is a first step,” said Wilkins. “It’s going to take a while.”

The town currently enforces the two-hour parking along Commercial Row and removes snow along the street, but the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association pays the leases on additional parking lots near the Texaco gas station and the fire station that are owned by Union Pacific Corp.The paid parking program’s revenue, depending on what level the parking charge is set, will cover the costs of enforcement, snow removal, leases, and possibly the enhancement of some parking locations downtown. The town and downtown merchants have mentioned that a “pay and display” metering system could fit downtown, where several meters could service the entire Commercial Row and the drivers would put a ticket in their window to show they had paid the parking fee. Different metering options will be explored by the town and returned to the council for consideration.Jerry Wood, president of the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association, said all of the merchants he has talked to support paid parking.

“I have never heard a negative response,” said Wood.He said that a 50 cent parking fee would open up the parking congestion by eliminating people that abuse the free parking, but not keep visitors from going downtown to shop.”I don’t think that 50 cents added to a cup of coffee will deter anybody,” Wood said.Meanwhile, Fred Zabell, owner of Alpine Mounting Systems on West River Street, said that he hoped the town leaves West River Street area as free parking.

“I think that paid parking is in our future, there is little question about that,” said Zabell. But he gave three pieces of advice to the council: “Think incrementally, go very slowly, and leave us alone on West River Street.” In their comments, some council members urged a slow approach to paid parking, but voiced support for a paid program that will transfer the management costs from the town and merchants to the users of the spaces. The council also supported an increase in the fee paid by development that does not provide all of the parking needed; a residential permit program to ensure residents of downtown still can find a place to park; and an update to the formula that determines how many parking spaces each land use should provide.

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