City eyes changing parking policies

Published 10:22 am Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The city of Austin will likely change its downtown parking policies and create a new parking permit for apartment renters.

The Austin City Council preliminarily approved several changes to its downtown parking policies during a work session Monday night. Those changes could also include lifting certain parking restrictions for some city lots.

Public Works Director Steven Lang told the council the city would like to propose lifting the 12-hour parking restriction for the Nemitz and Austin Drug parking lots, but would still keep snow emergency and business sign rules in place for business space leases.

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In addition, the city’s permit for the Methodist parking lot on First Street and Second Avenue Northwest could apply between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. The city currently has 44 stalls in that lot available with 16 parking space leases.

Yet the biggest change could be a new apartment dweller permit, which would be issued to renters for one space per apartment unit. The permit would allow people to park in an open stall downtown for as long as necessary, but renters would still have to abide by snow emergency rules.

“This would give them a little more free rein parking in the downtown area,” Lang said.

Residents and business owners have become more concerned about downtown parking ever since Hormel Foods Corp. announced in May the Spam Museum was moving downtown to the old fire site property currently between Second and Fourth avenues east of Main Street. Since then, people have asked the city to look into parking at several meetings, including a downtown master plan community meeting held last month.

City staff determined earlier this year that the city had adequate parking through the Methodist lot, among other sites, to handle more traffic downtown.

Lang told the council the new permits would likely go into effect during the next lease cycle for businesses and other parking leases.

The council will formally approve the changes at its next public meeting on Aug. 18.