Parking in downtown Durham was a concern well before meters were installed and residential and hotel construction began. Now it is an immediate, practical problem for downtown businesses. The waiting list for leased spaces is hundreds of individuals long. The Center for Senior Life reports “10 percent reduction in use” and Bull City Brewery and Pompieri Pizza have seen “15 to 20 percent decreases compared to the year before.”
Correlation is not causation, but concerns like these prompted a PAC5 meeting to “Facilitate Acute Parking Shortage Discussion.” However, solutions presented by Parking and Transportation representatives, like deactivating underperforming meters and allowing longer time limits for metered spots, were band-aid solutions when a surgical procedure is needed. And tentative plans for new parking garages or increasing use of public transit are too distant to have any meaningful near-term impact.
Objectively speaking, Durham has enough supply of spots to serve downtown parking needs. The problem is how they are allocated, and this is where no solutions were presented.
So here are three:
1. Require construction workers to park in and be shuttled from remote lots. They have a predictable schedule and work in the same location.
2. Facilitate leasing agreements between downtown businesses and hotels. Hotel lots sit empty during the workday.
3. Use funds collected from parking meters to host a design contest to solve the allocation problem. Talented people are directly affected by this problem.
We aren't the first city to face this pressing issue. We can figure it out.