Parking Pains: City of Savannah to study parking needs - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Parking Pains: City of Savannah to study parking needs

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

You might agree that trying to find a parking space in downtown Savannah can be maddening. Does the city need more spaces, or do we have enough?

That's a question the City of Savannah is about to answer.

The city is planning to conduct an extensive parking study, and while the city has done studies like this in the past, this one will also look at future parking needs.

While packed lots and full garages can be frustrating for locals and tourists alike, River Street business owner Mark Halliday said it's particularly difficult and pricey for his employees.

"That is an additional burden to our employees because they could pay up to 5% of their income just parking downtown for their jobs," said Halliday.

Halliday said a monthly garage pass isn't financially possible for his part time workers.

You might remember Jennifer Beisell who wanted a monthly spot in one of the city's garages. Instead she was paying 15 dollars a day, 300 dollars a month to park in a daily garage spot because all but one of the city's garages are at capacity for monthly parkers.

"I pretty much have to work an entire day to pay my parking for a week," said Beisell.

In the last 25 years, the City of Savannah said it has added more than 3,000 off street parking spaces, but the question now is: is that enough?

Ruel Joyner, owner of 24 E and president of the Downtown Business Association, said it's time to readdress the issue.

He says while it's possible more parking is needed, parking habits need to be examined as well.

"There certainly is a very large perception problem for parking in downtown Savannah and then there is also the realistic problem of it. It's almost like a double edged sword. Both of it needs to be worked on," said Joyner.

City officials are in the process of retaining a firm to conduct an extensive parking study, not only to examine the current situation, but to anticipate future parking needs.

"They'll be looking at land use. They'll be looking at current traffic patterns. They'll be doing occupancy studies," said Sean Brandon, burea chief of management services. "They'll be going back and doing some level of outreach and surveys, future building permits. Things like that."

The study will be looking at pricing, garages, spacing and how to encourage other transportation options.

However, the city said building another garage may not be the right answer.

"We have areas downtown that have tight parking at certain points of the day at certain points of the year. So how do you address those areas without necessarily hurting other areas that are doing fine? And I think that's the point of the study," said Brandon.

Once the city determines the exact scope, they will hire a consultant, who would actually complete the study, which would be an 8-10 month process.

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