SPOKANE, Wash. - The City of Spokane's plan to replace old parking meters in the downtown core with new smart meters comes with a catch: Hundreds of those old meters will turn free parking into paid parking outside downtown.
The city claims the old meters will be installed in new locations to serve the community better, that the meters will allow spots to be freed up more often rather than cars sitting in the same parking spots all day.
Residents beg to differ however.
Last year the city purchased a total of 800 new smart meters to place around the downtown core.
The new meters mean drivers have the ability to pay with credit cards or coins, but it also gave the city the option to recycle 500 of the old meters. So the city is going to do just that by placing those meters on the lower South Hill near hospitals and surrounding residential neighborhoods.
"As those installations occurred that's freed up some other parking meters we're now installing in some other areas," City spokesperson Brian Coddington said.
The meters will roll out in phases with the first phase already underway.
"The primary goal there is to create turnover with our parking. Those are areas where we see some commercial activity, we see people attending appointments for doctors offices, those kind of things," Coddington added.
More meters means more money for the city but residents in the areas about to get parking meters are not impressed. Mark Anthony, owner of Anthony Productions, moved his business from downtown primarily because of the meters.
"When you get a ticket it's like 'Oh Jeez' one more things to do, more money out of my pocket," he said.
Anthony says the meters were an issue for both him, and his clients, and doesn't see the benefit in adding more.
"If I plugged the meter for 10 minutes but it really took me 20 minutes to load up then I've got that worry about am I going to get a ticket," he asked.
But the city said it's not about making money, claiming the additional meters will bring in approximately $50,000 annually.
"We need to strike a balance, and so we do work with business owners and residents. Some of the installations have occurred because of residential parking needs," Coddington said.
People who live near the meters may qualify to buy an annual $25 parking pass.
The city plans to launch a mobile app at the beginning of October which will help you find open spots and pay with your smartphone.
For a map of the city's new parking meter boundaries click here