Major parking changes could be coming to Savannah - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Major parking changes could be coming to Savannah

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

Parking in Savannah may be one of the most frustrating things about this beautiful city.

Often times, it is such a headache to find a spot, some people just avoid Downtown Savannah all together. That is something that the City and Mobility and Parking Services is hoping to fix.

They hired a consultant firm and after a yearlong study they are almost ready to present their recommendations to Savannah City Council.

“This is something that we have not done in years. I do not think since, 1995," said Valeeta McDonald, director of Mobility and Parking Services. "The goal is all about giving people options. Giving people the ability to make a choice on what they are willing to pay for parking."
The study is called, “Parking Matters,” and after hours of research, thousands of surveys and studies, they have several ideas they believe will help the city.
One of the recommendations would be to get rid of all the individual metal parking meters throughout the city. Obviously, that will take time and a lot of money.
"Only coins, and if you do not have change, you are just kind of out of luck," said McDonald.
They would be replaced by the pay-for-space kiosks that are in some parts of the city now.

“Those provide options for payment, you can use mobile, you can still use coins, you can use cards, or smart cards," said McDonald.
With that change, would come the elimination of time restraints on meters. Instead, it would be replaced by paying rates based on where you park.

"If you are willing to pay more to park closer, than you can do that. If you are willing to walk a little further and not pay as much, you can do that," said Denise Grabowski, owner of Symbioscity and a member of the consultant team.

The city would be divided up into different zones, and you would pay higher or lower rates based on which zone you were in. For example, if you want to park on Broughton, Bay or near the heart of Downtown, you will pay a higher fee than if you park farther away.

"In some places we will see fees go up but in some places we will see them most likely go down," said Grabowski.
The two-hour free parking on Broughton Street would be eliminated.

In order to accommodate this strategy, Parking Services plan to increase the options for mobility within the city. Whether that is making sure shuttles are running all day or expanding the bike share program. That way, if you do park further from downtown, you would have options to get to your location.

"We heard that there is confusion, which is complicated. For those of us that work downtown, we got it. But for the visitors or even those that live in the city, they do not come back down here because they had a bad experience,” said Grabowski.

There will be two sessions for public comment. The first will be on March 3rd from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express on Bay Street. The other will be on March 4th from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at East State Street.

The study should be complete in May and they will present it to Savannah City Council.

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