City leaders consider phasing out free parking on 4 holidays

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by SHAWN CHITNIS & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on December 9, 2013 at 6:43 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 9 at 8:40 PM

Poll:
Should parking meters be free on the holidays in question?

SPOKANE, Wash.-- Drivers can park for free in Downtown Spokane on the holidays, but the City Council is considering changing that.

Organizers of the Martin Luther King Junior March are worried about how it will impact the event.

The proposal would also let the City take action if a driver has more than four parking tickets, letting the City put a boot on your car.
   
Some City leaders and community organizers are taking away free parking on Martin Luther King Junior Day and Veterans Day.

Thousands of people come to the MLK Jr. March every year. It is a holiday when the City is open and parking is free. The City Council said they may now charge for metered parking on four holidays. Those holidays are Martin Luther King Junior Day, President's Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day.

Some drivers think it will turn people away who come Downtown on those holidays.

"We'll see how much business they lose as a result of it," said driver Sara Breen.

City staff said some businesses find their customers can not park on the holidays because all the spots are taken. Council president Ben Stuckart said some holidays need to be off limits.

"We need to keep those parking free days just to send right the message to the public, because we don't want to start peeling back the recognition that we do of Martin Luther King Day or Veterans especially," said Stuckart.

Councilman Mike Fagan is not worried about whether the holidays are free or not. He said the council needs to focus on getting drivers to pay unpaid tickets.

"They knowingly are violating the law and they're doing what they can to not follow through with being a responsible citizen," said Fagan.

Spokane has racked up more than $4 million in unpaid parking tickets in the last decade according to Fagan. He supports the proposal to boot cars with more than four unpaid tickets and ultimately tow those cars.

Some drivers said whether it is a holiday or not, you need to be ready to pay to park.

"I think that you know if you're going to come downtown and park, you should have to pay to park in one way or another no matter what day it is," said Breen.

The City Council was set to vote on the issue on Tuesday night.

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