KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas City is taking steps to eliminate what it calls an “upside down and backwards” parking model in areas around the River Market and the popular City Market.
Currently it costs $1 per hour to park in surrounding lots on weekdays when few people shop. It is free on weekends when vendors bring in food and goods for a farmer’s market and area coffee shops, bistros, antique stores and bars are the busiest.
But that will transition next month and by May 1, those lots will charge $10 on weekends. Meanwhile, street parking will be enforced seven days a week at the $1 hourly rate, instead of just Monday-Friday, according to a Public Works presentation provided by the city.
Josh Boehm is Chair of the Downtown Neighborhood Association and a River Market resident. He sees what the area surrounding the City Market looks like on weekends.
“You see a lot of people who are circling around looking for those free parking space, and they can’t find any available ones, and that contributes to a lot more traffic congestion than there needs to be,” Boehm said.
It was a very different scene both for street parking and at lots surrounding the City Market Tuesday, where we met two women who say they come regularly for produce.
“Cheaper prices plus they are more fresh than they are in the store,” Alexis Alvarado said.
But they soon will have to factor in the price of parking to their produce runs. City Council unanimously approved a plan to pay $522,000 dollars annually to a parking company for services at a number of lots and parking meters around the City Market.
But the city will make that back and then some with the plan to begin charging for parking on weekends. Estimates are the move will raise $912,000 in revenue for a net gain of $390,000.
Some business owners tell FOX4 they are afraid it will hurt business. Customers agree.
“If they are going to start charging $5-10 you may as well go to the grocery store where you don’t have to pay for parking. It kind of defeats the purpose because you come down here for the deals,” Janiece Henderson said.
Boehm, who has met with parking managers, says he understands the city’s explanation and that it doesn’t make sense to give parking away for free at the time when it’s most in demand.
“When you think about your classic econ 101 supply and demand, it’s completely backwards from where it should be. So the city is attempting to change that, so I think they are doing the right thing by trying something new,” he said.
It might also change people’s habits when it comes to getting to the River Market.
“It may make people take the streetcar more. I personally honestly have never taken the streetcar, it might push me to take it,” Alvarado said.
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