SPOKANE, Wash.—The City of Spokane agreed to give apartment residents free metered parking after they complained about dozens of new parking meters around the Hospital District on the South Hill. A KREM 2 On Your Side investigation revealed that officials decided to let apartment residents who relied on street parking to park for free at the meters.
The meters were installed near the intersection of 8th and Bernard. Residents in the apartment buildings nearby said street parking was already hard enough to come by. They worried it would be even harder when new meters went in.
“We have no parking here, at all. Except for street parking. So, it was kind of a shock,” said one resident.
About 35 new meters went in along a two-block stretch in early June. To park on the street for 12 hours would have cost residents almost $5 per day or $120 per month. More than 120 families in the surrounding apartment buildings spoke-up about the inconvenience and the sudden expense.
“If you are carrying groceries or have babies, or grandkids, like we do. We have to park out here, and unload them. Then, get back in the car,” said one resident.
“Between the parking passes, and our rent going up, our cost of living just went up 20%... in a month,” said another resident.
City officials said they installed the meters because of multiple complaints. They said some people living in the apartment buildings were frustrated about employees at the surrounding hospitals and medical offices taking up all of the free parking.
Apartment managers said they contacted City officials about options for their tenants and were told the meters would start being enforced on Monday. They added that Spokane officials offered parking passes for residents at a cost of $25. That left a bad taste for tenants.
“Nobody contacted us. Nobody did any kind of community ramification research. They just did what they wanted to do and didn't bother asking anybody,” said a resident.
Spokane officials said they were changing course. They said the meters would not be enforced until Wednesday. They added apartment residents would get the free parking they asked for.
“For most of the apartments, even in the Downtown area, they receive these parking passes, and it's $25 to park at a City meter," said Spokane Communications Manager Julie Happy. "But we are imposing this on those residences, so we want to take care of them. I mean, the whole purpose was to allow them free parking that they weren't receiving.”
City officials said the apartment residents would be able to get a new free residential parking pass every month.