Nevada City OKs jump in parking meter rates to $1 an hour |

Nevada City OKs jump in parking meter rates to $1 an hour

A map of downtown Nevada City shows the proposed location for parking meter pay stations and additional metered parking.
Courtesy Nevada City

For years, those venturing to Nevada City’s historic downtown have faced a conundrum. Parking has been absurdly cheap — 25 cents an hour or even every two hours at many metered parking spots — but finding a vacant space can be difficult.

That’s about to change.

On Wednesday, the city council voted to quadruple the rates, to $1 an hour. That move could free up some parking and will generate more than $550,000 a year, 20 percent of which would be earmarked for fire mitigation, such as a siren alert system and vegetation clearing.

Superintendent of Public Works Bubba Highsmith presented a plan at a May council meeting to double the rates and expand locations for the city’s 237 parking meters. Highsmith was directed to come back with a revised plan that would triple the rate, to 75 cents an hour. But after the discussion Wednesday, council members agreed to raise the rate even higher.

Nevada City’s meters currently generate a monthly average income of $9,986, Highsmith said, adding the proposed plan would increase the hourly rate for all meters.

The city will install two solar-powered pay stations that can take credit cards, replacing the current meters at the Commercial Street lot and adding paid parking at the 36 spaces in the upper/lower Spring Street lot. The pay stations cost $8,000 each, with a $55 monthly fee per station to be able to accept credit cards.

The city would discontinue its parking permit program, Highsmith said. Both the Commercial Street lot and the Spring Street lot would be available for long-term paid parking and the Nevada Street lot would stay free parking with a four-hour limit.

In a second phase, Nevada City will add 34 additional paid parking spots on Broad, Main, Church, York and Spring streets.

Council member Duane Strawser, who was absent for the May meeting, initially said he was comfortable with doubling the rates, to 50 cents. But after commenting that most members of the public didn’t like the idea of 75 cents, he suggested the rate go up to a dollar.

“I’ve always thought we do not charge enough,” said council member Valerie Moberg, before asking if the current meters could be modified to accept dollar bills.

Highsmith said the cost would be prohibitive, but an alternative would be to sell a prepaid parking card through city hall.

“People love that (funds) are going to fire mitigation,” council member Erin Minett said, adding she wants to have the emergency siren installed by the end of the year. “I think this is a win-win.”

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

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