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New parking meters on Court Street now accept credit cards instead of just coins. (FILE)

City Council to potentially update parking regulations

Athens City Council is considering an ordinance that would further change parking regulations in Athens to lower the times for parking enforcement. 

Those new proposals were first brought forward by Councilwoman Sarah Grace, D-At Large, at a meeting on Oct. 28.

Grace’s formal proposal includes moving the time in which metered parking space fees are enforced up to 7 p.m., according to a previous Post report. Currently, rates are enforced until 8 p.m.

Councilwoman-elect Beth Clodfelter, D-At Large, is among those who support this move.

“Moving the time back to 7 will allow people to go to a 5 o’clock movie or a 6 o’clock dinner without fear of getting a ticket when they come back,” Clodfelter said in that same Post report.

Before it was moved to 8 p.m., parking spaces were free of charge after 6 p.m. Councilman Pat McGee, I-At Large, thinks that the time should be moved all the way back to 6 p.m.

"Keep in mind that the time used to be 6:00 and it was cheaper,” McGee said in an email. “I think it was last spring that council increased rates and raised the time to 8:00.” 

McGee said the rationale was that service workers were taking up parking spaces since they were not required to pay after 6 p.m. and customers would not be able to find a parking space. Mayor Steve Patterson pushed moving the time to 8 p.m. and promised that he would do something to make the parking garage better and try to find a way to make it cheaper for service workers such as waiters and bartenders, McGee said.

McGee, an outgoing city councilman, said he would like to see a discounted rate for service workers and would possibly make cards available to them at a discounted rate.

“Since the city did not need the money for the new meters with the increased hours, I questioned why they would ‘compromise’ at 7:00 rather restore it to 6pm,” McGee said in an email.

Local businesses would be directly affected by the council making metered spots free after 7 p.m. since many service workers use those spots.

Alex Booth, a manager at Big Mamma’s Burritos, said while most of his coworkers, including himself, use the garage, he would be in favor of the new regulations.

"I think that's definitely a good idea,” Booth said. “It would be helpful.”

Both Grace and McGee also want to designate all accessible parking spaces as low-intensity zones.

The low-intensity zone designation for people with disabilities means those individuals would pay reduced rates for prime parking, or high-intensity zones, McGee, who is a member of the city Disabilities Commission, said.

He also said the zoning is logical because it would cut the walking distance for those who would benefit.

“(The change) makes sense since it is harder for them to walk to the cheaper low intensity zones,” McGee said in an email.


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