A half-dozen downtown Easton business owners don’t like the idea of going to $1 an hour for curb parking, but they need to give themselves more credit.
Downtown Easton is doing great. And it’s not because of 50 cent/hour parking. It’s because a lot of people have built really good businesses that people like. That’s why more people are coming downtown to spend money. Where to stash the car is at most a secondary concern.
Managing the parking demand is very important though, and the city has a critical responsibility to make sure that more demand for what downtown Easton’s businesses are selling translates into more customers for them, and not maddening traffic congestion.
Mike Fleck gets it half right here:
Council member Michael Fleck said years ago, it was important to have low parking rates to draw people and business to Easton’s struggling downtown. Now that things are better, it’s time to increase the rates to generate revenue, he said.
Mike’s right that higher curb rates won’t deter customers. But the reason to raise rates isn’t to get the money. That’s a nice side effect, since you can spend the money on useful public services like Easton Main St and the Ambassadors, but the main goal has to be demand management.
Now that things are better, city council has a choice between keeping curb rates low and having more traffic congestion, or raising curb rates and having more open curb spaces – that is, more convenient parking.
Everybody wants to have low curb prices *and* have an easy time finding a parking space, but you can’t have both. You have to choose. My view is that the convenient parking choice is always better.
What really frustrates customers about paid parking isn’t the amount of money, it’s the inconvenience. Finding quarters, driving around the block 5 times looking for a space. If the city can get rid of those problems – and it easily can – it’s worth the annoyance of higher curb prices.