From my “if you build it they will come” file. Port Huron, MI, is removing parking meters in its downtown business and entertainment district to “remove an impediment to the downtown’s revival.” That’s what they think.
The truth is that most likely those free spaces will be taken by employees of local merchants and people wanting to drive downtown to play will have no place to park. They will then keep right on going to that big mega mall on the outskirts of town.
Now, if the money from the on street parking had been channeled into the “revival” of downtown, my guess is that folks would have flocked to the new, upgraded area and loved to spend their money in tony shops, theaters, restaurants, sidewalk cafes, or simply sit in the park and watch the passing scene. Oh yes, they would have loved to pay to park so they could visit such a wonderful place.
Look at it another way – people pay $15 park to see the Dodgers play, that’s more that some tickets. They also pay $12 to park at Disneyland for the right to pay $80 to get in to visit Mickey. The parking charges don’t slow them up a bit. Just as free parking doesn’t bring people to the mall. It’s the stores, theaters, restaurants, bars, and the people scape that bring folks to the mall.
If you build it they will come.
Too bad Port Huron hasn’t realized that yet. We’ll see an article in a few months about the complaints that there isn’t enough parking downtown and they need a new garage. And then when the garage is built and they find no one is parking in it (they charge $2 a hour to park in the garage but its free to park on the street) they will complain that no one is using the garage. Then someone will get the bright idea to charge for parking on street. And reduce the parking costs in the garage. They will then find there is plenty of on street parking and the garage is empty.
Oh and the store front chapels, wig shops, and second hand stores in the area will still complain that there is not enough business downtown.