The Spokane city council will decide Monday night whether to buy new credit card ready parking meters, which already has some residents saying they will boycott downtown if it happens.
The new parking meters would have a feature that zeros out a meter when the car parked there leaves. That means if you pay for an hour and only use 45 minutes that extra 15 minutes is lost; it doesn't get passed on to the next person looking for a spot.
The response from many to the proposal has been negative from residents in the community, leaving the owners of one downtown Spokane business, Two Women Vintage, shocked.
"It was sad that people would take it out on the small businesses downtown," said Fielding Chelf, co-owner of Two Women Vintage.
The city council will vote Monday whether to spend $1.5 Million from the parking fund to purchase 800 credit card ready parking meters.
"We're looking at new meters because it's convenient to use your credit card on the meters," said Spokane City Council president Ben Stuckart.
It's an idea that Fielding Chelf likes.
"We have to give out a lot of change, it would definitely help us," Chelf said.
But what people don't like is that those meters would have sensors that could detect when a car left the spot and zero out any remaining minutes, meaning the next person to park in that spot will never "inherit" free minutes.
"Definitely upset me and I think a lot of other people because what's the point? The money's there the money's paid why not pay it forward?" Rylee Mason said.
Each year parking meters generate about $4.4 Million, of which $2 Million goes to pay off the bond on the River Park Square parking garage. Another portion pays for the parking system itself. The rest, which can be anywhere from $200,000 to $650,000, will be used for sidewalks, maintenance, beautification and line painting to name a few. Next year it will also pay the salary of two downtown police officers.
"We're making sure that those officers that are downtown, that are making downtown a safer place for shopping are also paid out of this fund," Stuckart said.
Zeroing out the meters means more money for the city.
"Typically I think what other municipalities have experienced is about 20 percent increase in revenue once the rollout of new meters goes into effect," Brian Coddington, communications director for the City of Spokane, said.
That translates into an extra $400,000 a year on the first 800 parking meters.
While you may no longer get free minutes in the future, the owners of Two Women Vintage just don't want to lose your business.
"It's easy to walk around. It's easy to park so yeah, downtown is a great place to shop," Chelf said.
If passed Monday night the city would have a total of 1,350 credit card ready meters in place by 2016, with the first of those in place by August 16.
Councilmember Mike Fagan did note that the new electronic meters can be programmed to allow unused minutes to be passed along to the next driver. Whether the city will do that or not will be determined.