This week the most popular parking lot along South Main made the extremely short-sighted decision to start charging for parking. So being the good patrons that we are, we decided to whip up a parking guide for SoMa.
The parking lot at 13th and Main has been a prime location for parking since the district started heating up. Now that the area is the most popular among locals in town the developer who owns the lot has decided to charge for parking to make a few extra dimes off the popularity of the area. From what I can tell, the merchants in the area do not want the lot to be paid and by and large do not support the move.
Yes, I’ve heard all your arguments about how parking in other cities is typically paid. Paid parking comes out of scarcity, more cars than available spots which creates more need than demand, when that happens you can easily justify paying for parking. Even across the freeway in the core downtown area this is justified by the number of workers daily who rely on the parking spots to get to their jobs. This parking is, by and large, paid by the companies they work for.
SoMa is different. Relatively few people work in the area and the ones who do have their own parking. Instead, it is visitors to the area who are essentially paying a tax to visit the area. It has the real possibility of stunting the growth of the district when the main parking area is now paid despite the ample amount of street parking around.
It is already having an impact on the lot. Today going through there were no cars parked in the lot until at least 11:30. At the end of lunch period around 12:45 I counted 5 cars in the lot. At both times the lot is typically anywhere between 3/4 full to completely full during lunch, supporting the local businesses in the area. Nighttime is very similar, yet it was mostly empty last night as well.
I’ve not spoken with the developer, but there are a few reasons why to make this paid (something that is mostly unenforceable might I add). First, it is possible that the developer believes that people will eventually get over it and he can profit from the parking lot. Second, he could just be unaware of the backlash from the parking situation. Finally, he could be trying to reduce the use of the lot to justify future development on the property. Given the popularity of the area and the few available storefronts to move into, this would not be surprising. Given the relatively small amount of money to be made from parking versus a future building, I am inclined to believe this option.
Either way, continue to support SoMa businesses. All who had nothing to do with the changes. Avoid parking in the newly paid lot and instead, find one of the 100+ free or metered spots around the area. Most of the side streets are open for parking as well as all of Louisiana and Scott, neither of which are far to walk. There are several free lots as well scattered around the area. Remember, meters are free on weekends and after 5pm, during the day they are only $0.50 an hour instead of the $1.5/hour parking (with a 2-hour minimum) of the lot. Here is your guide.