Free parking in Grass Valley may soon become a thing of the past | TheUnion.com

Free parking in Grass Valley may soon become a thing of the past

Enforcing three-hour parking limits is labor-intensive for Grass Valley's staff, according to Police Chief Alex Gammelgard. The city is considering implementing a paid-parking system, which Gammelgard said would provide more funding for enforcement and other parking improvements.

Grass Valley may soon charge a fee to park in one of its downtown parking lots, and may eventually charge for parking in other parts of downtown.

The city-owned parking lot at the corner of South Auburn and Neal Streets, which is currently a permit-only lot, will be the initial location for the city to try out paid parking, the Grass Valley Police Department said in a news release.

"This lot is ideal for a pay-for-parking pilot program as it is relatively small with limited ingress and egress routes," the release states. "Because of the lot's small size, it could be serviced by one kiosk and minimal signage. The location is convenient and visible for visitors to the downtown. For these reasons, we believe this parking lot would be ideal for us to test the technology and work out any issues that might arise while minimizing our startup costs."

The proposed pilot program would need approval from city council members before taking effect.

According to Police Chief Alex Gammelgard, the paid parking initiative is an effort to address Grass Valley's antiquated parking system. Some lots and spaces downtown have a three-hour time limit. Enforcing that limit is labor intensive, Gammelgard said, because it requires city employees to first mark cars' tires and then come back sometime more than three hours later to see if those cars are still parked in the same spaces.

Gammelgard said the city's current parking situation is a concern for some downtown merchants, who say there aren't enough open spaces for potential customers at some times of the day.

Recommended Stories For You

The revenue from paid parking, Gammelgard said, would likely go toward paying city employees to ramp up parking enforcement and, eventually, toward creating a better overall parking program. But where the funds might go, ultimately, is a decision that would be made by the city council, he said.

Parking will likely cost between 50 cents and $1.50 per hour from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., according to the release. But the proposed price and hours are flexible, and dependent on a city council decision.

The Police Department expects the pilot program to be up-and-running by January, according to the release.

After three to six months, the city plans to evaluate the program and consider expanding paid parking to other areas, including downtown streets and parking lots, the release states.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email mpera@theunion.com or call 530-477-4231.