Parking meter rate increase in Great Falls

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The City Commission this week approved an increase in the parking meter rates for downtown Great Falls.

Currently, it’s 50 cents for one hour; starting July 1st, the rate will increase to $1 per hour.

Jenn Rowell at The Electric posted on Facebook: “Commissioners vote 4-1 to approve the parking meter increase to $1 per hour, adjust the fine structure and change the courtesy ticket to one per lifetime of a license plate.”

Personally – it doesn’t bother me at all. Two bits is not too much of a burden to be able to park right in front of a business or restaurant that I enjoy. But I’m kind of weird – for some reason, I actually enjoy dropping a few quarters in the downtown parking meters. My wife thinks I’m silly, and when we park downtown during non-metered time, she always tells me to NOT feed the meter – but I do anyway! I have no idea why I enjoy it, but I do.

I am NOT a fan, however, of the two-hour limit that is imposed on downtown parking. I don’t think that I have ever spent two straight hours parked in a metered spot, so this rule doesn’t really apply to me – but I think that if you’re willing to drop some coins in the meter, you should be able to stay as long as you pay. I kind of understand the rationale for the limit – keep folks moving, bring in new customers, etc – but it seems like more of a hassle to enforce than it is worth. And yes, I know about a recent judicial ruling that marking tires with white chalk – but as of today, that ruling does not apply in Montana.

But…there are a lot of people who are angry about the decision. A very small sampling from Facebook comments at KRTV and The Electric:

Carl Jurenka Another wonderful example of our city commissioners killing off local businesses.

Cheri O’Brien Golie Good luck getting anyone to shop downtown! Are they aware of all the towns with no meters at all!! This is really ludicrous and will get lots if backlash!!

Sue McNay Well, l wont be shopping downtown! Thanks commissioners.

Toni McArthur Well no downtown shopping for me. Stupid!!!!!

John C. Brady Well, great way to kill business. Morons.

And Kattie Meyer, who owns Motifs For The Home downtown (what a fun store!), had some choice words for people who claim that they WON’T shop downtown because of the increase. Here’s an excerpt:

Many people write that they will never come down and shop due to the meters. Shame on you! Seriously, shame on you! It is not the shop owners increasing the rates. We did not ask for this and are not happy about the increase. It is the city commissioners that you elected. You say you will never shop downtown because of the increase, but it was the shop owners fighting against the increase. So you want to punish those that were on the same side as you? That doesn’t even make sense. So where do you shop? Amazon? Nordstrom online? Online boutique? Do those owners live in this community? Do they pay taxes? Do they buy Gold Cards from your high school student? Girl Scout cookies? Popcorn from your boyscout?

And I’m happy to see that her post is being liked and shared by plenty of people!

Look, I get it – nobody WANTS to pay more for downtown parking – but first of all, even with the increase, it’s still a very small amount, and if that amount is what is keeping you from shopping downtown, well…maybe you probably weren’t inclined to shop downtown anyway.

And second: if you want to protest the increase, DON’T punish the business owners! Go to a City Commission meeting, talk with the Mayor, send an email to the people on the Parking Advisory Commission, or attend one of the meetings (The Parking Commission meets on the third Monday of each month at 3:00 p.m. in the Ryan Room of the Civic Center – source). Ranting about it in Facebook comments is not how you get things changed!



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