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Durham to consider changing free parking spaces to paid

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Durham City Council will hear a proposal Thursday to turn 900 spaces throughout the city from free to paid parking. Durham City Council will hear a proposal Thursday to turn 900 spaces throughout the city from free to paid parking.
DURHAM, N.C. -

Durham City Council will hear a proposal Thursday to turn 900 spaces throughout the city from free to paid parking to make up for a $2 million deficit.

The city will consider transitioning 750 parking spaces in downtown and 150 spaces on 9th Street to paid spots.

The idea is to make sure parking is being used efficiently at a time when the city's parking fund has a deficit of about $2 million.

"The purpose is to encourage the turnover," Durham transportation direct Mark Ahrendsen explained. "On-street parking is a valuable asset and we don't want somebody parking there all day long.

"If they do, they'll certainly pay a premium to do that."

The change would mean that parking along the street would cost $1.25 per hour. But residents and business owners say that price is too high.

"I don't think $1.25 would be feasible at this time," said Durham resident Diane Armstrong-Dean. "If they're going to put the meters there, it should be maybe 50 cents, because you've got to think about the economics and how we're almost in a recession."

Sherry Clayton, the owner of Wavelengths Salon, said she is concerned that her customers might look elsewhere to avoid paying for parking.

"People will choose that parking lot or choose those businesses over these businesses," Clayton said.

Ahrendsen said the city understands those concerns, but "we also recognize that this is a valuable commodity, valuable resource and we need to charge properly for it."

Another part of the proposal calls for turning two existing, city-owned parking lots on Morgan Street into a deck with as many as 500 spaces.

If City Council moves forward with the proposed transition, the changes to the parking spaces could occur within two years.

Effective Oct. 1, the city implemented new, increased rates for monthly parking permits in downtown parking decks. The city also increased the fee to park in parking decks during special events by $1.

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Justin Quesinberry

Justin is a reporter for WNCN and a North Carolina native. He has spent the better part of the last decade covering the news in central North Carolina.  More>>

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