EDITORIAL: Parking myths and reality

York Dispatch

Downtown Inc officials say York City has plenty of parking spaces.

Its parking system has issues, of course, but a lack of spots isn't one of them. For the most part, they claim, that's just a myth.

We respectfully disagree.

Take it from folks who have lived, worked and played in the White Rose city ... parking in York is a major hassle during weekday business hours.

That said, we're completely on board with the booster organization's recommendations for making parking in the city "more user-friendly and easy to understand," as Downtown Inc's Meagan Feeser put it.

It was her job to put a happy face on the situation after Downtown Inc signed a contract last year with the city's General Authority to market the parking system.

That's not a job we would want, but we're glad Feeser took it on.

A closer look at York City parking revealed an overpriced, backward system that encouraged long-term street parking and had loopholes that allowed drivers to park all day in the garages and scoot out after hours without paying.

Parking rates should be higher at street meters than in parking garages to encourage short-term turnover at spaces closest to businesses, Feeser said, while lower prices at the garage serve as an incentive for people parking for multiple hours.

"We have that completely backwards," she said.

The cost to park for an hour on a downtown street is $1. At each of the city's three downtown garages, the cost for the first hour of parking is $3.50.

As for the loophole, some downtown workers park in a garage all day and then leave after 5 p.m., when the parking attendant is no longer on duty. No attendant, no fee.

That changes next month, when a new payment system goes online at the garages requiring credit-card payments after hours.

Indoor parking will remain free on weekends and between the hours of 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. But those who park in the garages every day, all day long during the week soon will be paying for every hour — even if they leave at 5:15 p.m.

At the same time, the hourly rates for parking in the garages will decrease by $1, to $2.50 an hour. Hopefully, that will entice some of the longer-term parkers into the garages and off the streets, freeing up those spots for people patronizing downtown businesses.

Kudos to Downtown Inc for sorting out this mess.

We still maintain York City needs more parking spaces — but properly managing the ones it has is kind of important, too.