Durham County

Durham removes some downtown parking meters, extends others

Downtown diners who use paid on-street parking will soon have two hours to finish their lunch, and those running errands can choose to only pay for 10 minutes.

The city’s Transportation Department is planning to increase the one-hour time limit for paid on-street parking within the city’s downtown loop to two-hours, said Thomas Leathers, the city’s parking administrator. Drivers will also be able to pay for parking in that area in 10-minute increments versus the current minimum of 30 minutes.

Those changes should go into effect by June 15, Leathers said.

The changes address concerns by downtown small-business owners and users who were frustrated by the one-hour limit or wanted to pay for less time to run a quick errand.

“That is perfect. That is awesome,” said Gray Brooks, co-owner of downtown’s Pizzeria Toro and Littler. “ I love that they were flexible and open to responding.”

In addition the city is removing nine downtown pay stations, including ones on Rigsbee Avenue and Hunt Street near the Durham Center for Senior Life.

In February the city installed new meters to charge $1.50 per hour for 1,000 spaces in and near downtown, the American Tobacco Campus, the Durham Performing Arts Center, West Village, the Brightleaf District, Durham Central Park, the Durham County Human Services Complex and the North Corporation and Geer Street District.

The recent changes to the on-street parking follow a 60-day analysis of the on-street metered parking, Leathers said. Leathers met with small-business owners and downtown advocacy nonprofit Downtown Durham Inc.

The parking meters were recommended as part of the 2013 Comprehensive Parking Study, and downtown has evolved significantly since then, he said.

“The department would like to thank our parking customers for their understanding as the city adapts to a downtown metered parking environment,” he said.

The city is planning to remove the nine “underperforming” pay stations, which can cover up to 10 parking spaces, by Friday, Leathers said.

Parking meters on the 100 block of Jackson Street.; 100 block of Yancey Street.; 100 and 200 blocks of Hunt Street., 200 block of Broadway Street; and the 300 and 400 blocks of Rigsbee Avenue will be removed.

The meters will be used in existing lots, to improve access to other paid parking and in other ways. No additional on-street parking will be created at this time, Leathers said. The city is also moving forward with a new parking study, Leathers said.

Durham Center for Senior Life officials and seniors have been complaining for more than two months that paid on-street parking is limiting their access to the center on Rigsbee Avenue.

“We were really excited about it,” Judy Kinney, executive director of the center, said about the removal. “Parking issues are an ongoing issue.”

The center is about 35 parking places short for users and staff, Kinney said, and the roughly 15 paid on-street parking spaces made a big difference.

People who use the senior center wouldn’t park at the spots, she said, pointing out that some have restricted incomes.

There has a been a 10 percent reduction in the use of the center, Kinney said.

“We had class instructors who wouldn’t teach a class here,” she said. “And more than that, we saw people parking in very dangerous ways.”

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges