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City audit proposes parking meters may reduce traffic congestion in Uptown Columbus

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John Redmond, city’s internal and compliance auditor, presented an audit to city council regarding parking in Uptown Columbus.  In the audit Redmond surveyed the parking garages and street parking spaces to see how much they were being used.

Redmond says he noticed that whether it be day or night the parking garages would be mostly empty. Redmond says it’s more common to see cars moving through Uptown and drivers looking for street parking.

According to the audit, Uptown street parking begins to get filled around 10 a.m. when businesses start to open and by lunch time there are few empty spaces.

“It’s gotten to the point because it’s such limited space particularly on Broadway, most of the day basically from 10 to about 6 p.m. it’s a difficult thing to find parking spaces, so the business owners are beginning to feel pressure that their customers can’t get to them,” Redmond said.

Soyoung Francis is the owner of Soyoung Salon on 12th street. She says she’s been at her location for eight years and parking for her customers has always been an issue.

“Our clients spend more than two hours for a lot of the service. When they come for their appointments, not only for their hair needs or nails, skincare, but they like to explore,” Francis said.

“They check out different restaurants because we have wonderful restaurants on this block. A lot of people, they don’t know if its two-hour parking or four-hour parking and next thing I know they’re getting tickets.”

Uptown Parking is currently patrolled based on zone parking requirements with signage placed on each block stating how long a car is allowed to be parked in the spot. Francis’ salon is located in a two-hour parking zone.

She says sometimes her new customers are unaware that she is in a two-hour parking zone or spend longer than two hours in the salon and she pays for their ticket.

“We don’t want to lose business because of that $40 parking ticket, so a lot of times we just try to take it off their service, especially our new clients who didn’t know,” Francis said.

Redmond says he spoke to several businesses in Uptown and many say zone parking and lack of close parking hinders their business. He suggested to council that parking meters may be the answer to create a more steady flow of traffic throughout Uptown. 

“Everyone seems to want to park at the door and when parking is the same price as all spaces there’s no incentive to want to go park in a garage that may be a block away. So, that’s one of the reasons why we are recommending that we go back to meter parking,” Redmond said.

News 3 asked a few patrons in Uptown how they felt about parking meters and some seemed skeptical of the idea.

“If they put up parking meters it’s not going to solve the problem. It actually might just make it worst. If you have to pay to park somewhere you’re going to be mad,” Bruce Wayne, Columbus resident said.

“I feel like that could be beneficial, but then that also means people will start having to pay. Then it’s like do people have the money or not, to pay,” Tate Abdullah, Columbus State University student said.

Redmond says metered parking would be a financial incentive that will encourage folks to use the parking garages.

“Metered parking is the best way to drive people that are workers down there and business owners into the garages because it’s an economic incentive. It’s free for them to park there and walk a block or two blocks at most as opposed to having the customers walk,” Redmond said.

Redmond says this also gives visitors in uptown the opportunity to control how long they would like to park. In addition to adding parking meters, the audit addressed repairs needed in uptown parking garages.

The audit states:

“Safety becomes an important concern, particularly for those employees and customers that must retrieve their vehicles after dark or late into the night. Th expectation is that parking garages must address their safety concerns.”

City Councilman John House says before the council considers to look into this transition they would need information on how much this change would cost.

“It’s an idea and it deserves consideration, but we need to understand what it’s going to cost us and how long is it going to take us to recoup that cost with the amount of money that goes into parking meters,” House said.

Audit Report:

Parking Management Presentation:

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