City to debate downtown parking issues

City to debate downtown parking issues

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Tucson city officials will debate a policy change affecting parking in neighborhoods around the University of Arizona and the 4th Avenue shopping district.

In 1984 the city put up no parking signs in neighborhoods where 75 percent of the residents petitioned for restrictions. Those restrictions mean no parking 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Over the years, things have changed.

The permits, which sell for about $25 a month, are not being utilized fully according to a study by Park Tucson.

In some neighborhoods, only about one in ten spaces is being used. The overall average in the neighborhoods is 25 percent.

That means three out of four of the spaces sit empty all day long and many of those spaces butt right up against, or very nearly do, the 4th Avenue shops and businesses.

4th Avenue, which is booming, would like to utilize those spaces for customers and employees.

After what has been a two year back and forth, it appears a solution is at hand. Some of the permits will be sold to businesses who can use them for customers or employees.

In doing so, it solves another issue which has been nagging at the city. Many residents petition for restrictions, but do not buy the permits.

They, however, have the same protections against encroachment.

"The way it is now, the residents who actually need the parking on the street themselves are buying the permits," said Donovan Durband, the Director of Park Tucson. "But other residents are enjoying the benefits of having restrictions."

It's not fair, Durband believes, that residents who don't pay get the same benefits as those who do.

As for 4th Avenue, "We need to make sure customers and employees are able to park," said Fred Ronstadt, the President of the 4th Avenue Merchants Association.

Some merchants, like Magpie's Pizza, have parking along the street on the south side of their business but because it is marked as no parking, customers drive around even though a space may be empty.

"It's a real hassle for our customers," one employee said.

"We don't have a scientific study, a lot of this is anecdotal from merchants who hear it from their customers directly, you know I would love to come down there a lot more often but parking is such a challenge for me," Ronstadt said.

The city will debate the plan at its August 8 meeting.

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