The city of Mobile announced last week the creation of new downtown parking zones to help deal with complaints from business owners and improve parking in the area for visitors.
Waterfront Coordinator Joe Snowden announced the creation of four-hour parking zones and hospitality worker parking zones at a media briefing about the changes Friday afternoon.
Despite the special four-hour zones along parts of St. Francis, Conception and Joachim streets, most of downtown will remain under the two-hour maximum. The two-hour limit is put in place to enhance the downtown parking experience, Snowden said.
“It encourages turnover,” he said. “It allows people to have a good opportunity to park close to where they want to eat and shop. Ideally one or two open spots on a city block means we’ve got the right mix of fees and hours.”
The city wants to maintain the two-hour maximum in most areas of downtown to prevent vehicles from parking in spaces for an extended period of time. The increased parking turnover will improve visitors’ experiences downtown, Snowden said.
“We don’t want customers going elsewhere,” he said.
The two-hour limit for downtown parking has always been in place, Snowden said, but Republic Parking’s enforcement is more streamlined than other vendors, so visitors may be seeing increased ticketing for a violation. Snowden said there is a roving and walking system in place and a tag reader, which makes it easier to determine a violation.
In addition to extending hours in specific areas, the city is offering special areas and a special rate for restaurant, bar and hotel employees to park, Snowden said. The so-called hospitality workers parking zones will be mostly along the unmetered section of St. Michael Street, between Franklin and N. Joachim streets. The zone will also extend south down Franklin Street to Dauphin Street and north on Claiborne Street to St. Louis Street. It will extend south on Claiborne Street to St. Francis Street.
Hospitality employees or employers can register in the parking office at 300 Dauphin St. for a special rate of $25 per month to park in that zone from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“You can park all day long for basically under a dollar per day,” Snowden said.
Registration in the system will come with a virtual tag, so when a hospitality worker’s license plate is scanned, the system will show the car is permitted to park in the location. Downtown residents will be allowed to park in those spaces during the time frame as well, but visitors will not.
The city is also opening up 43 new parallel parking spots along Government Street, from Royal to Claiborne streets.
“The ultimate objective is when people come downtown they can enjoy themselves and not have to look for a place to park,” Snowden said.
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