Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Downtown Parking Wars

You can all breathe easy now. I have solved the parking problem in Downtown Elgin.

Let’s bring back the parking meters. Then let’s hire a lovely girl named Rita to watch them.

I’m kidding. Actually, the problem, per se, is less about parking spaces than it is about parking habits.

This week a few retail business owners banned together to confront some downtown employees who regularly park all day in their street’s 90-minute parking spaces. After a few days of watchful eyes, dirty looks, some choice words and smooth refereeing by a parking enforcement officer, things are much better. The employees have parked in a nearby public lot and the retailers can give their customers front door service.

Problem solved? Not really. This situation is happening on many downtown streets and not just in Elgin.

Downtowns want their streets to be pedestrian-friendly and aesthetically-pleasing. Hence the construction of parking garages to hide away the excess of vehicles. On-street parking is typically allowed for 90 minutes or less to encourage easy access for shoppers, diners, or clients frequenting downtown businesses.

I remember when I worked at JC Penney they told us in our training that employees were to park behind the “employee line”, which was about 20 spaces back, to leave the front spaces for the customers. In this case, the “employee line” is in the public lots and garages for those businesses who do not have designated parking spaces.

It may surprise you to learn that the downtown has more than 2,000 spaces in public lots and covered garages. And they are all free. So, no matter where you work in downtown, you aren’t more than two blocks from free public parking. If you work in downtown Chicago, you are probably drooling right now.

Your parking options are: the Spring Street garage, the Fulton Street garage, the Civic Center garage on Symphony Way, and the Civic Parking Lot near City Hall. If you are coming downtown for a quick trip, there are more than 500 on-street parking spaces.

You can help to create a pedestrian-friendly downtown by being aware of the parking time limits and abiding by them. It benefits the businesses, which in turn benefits the city as a whole.

And after a few months of walking a couple extra blocks every day, you may notice that it benefits your waistline too. I dropped my last few pounds of baby weight somewhere between the Tower Building and the Spring Street Garage.

And if you want to be able to park anywhere you want for as long as you want (except for on the streets) you can buy a parking sticker from the City for $30 a month. Just go the Finance Department. Tell them that DNA sent you.

Are you a visual person? See a map of Downtown parking options here >

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah, now if only they would fix all the potholes and change the signal light schedule so it doesn't take 20 minutes to drive through downtown we would be getting someplace.