For the most part, people are spending more time downtown during parking time-limit suspension

Thursday, Apr. 13, 2023–2:34 p.m.

-David Crowder, WRGA News-

People have been taking advantage of the no time limit for parking downtown, according to data from a study that began last month.

During the month of March, 1,039 overtime parking citations were issued and voided. In February, before the temporary suspension of the three-hour limit, there were just 153 violations. There were just 162 in January, and 217 in March of 2022.

Of the 1,039 overtime citations, in half of those, we do not know who those vehicles belong to,” said parking manager Julie Harris. “We are not sure if they are residents or customers. The reason is that we can only track the vehicles that are in our parking system, meaning that they have a permit or have had a permit previously. We’re glad they’re downtown, but we don’t know why they are downtown.”

Of those offenders who accumulated the most overtime parking violations in March, law firms are at the top of the list. Of those who have had over five citations, nine were in the service industry, six were law firms, four were retailers, three were restaurants, and two were residents. Six are unknown. Ten have paid permits for the Third Avenue parking deck; seven have permits for the Fourth Avenue deck. Three have permits for the Fifth Avenue deck and three for the Sixth Avenue deck.

“Another fun fact is that revenue for the Third Avenue deck is up,” Harris added. “People are using the Third Avenue deck more, believe it or not, even with the free parking on Broad Street.”

Aundi Lesley

Downtown Development Director Aundi Lesley said the study is in response to some downtown tenants who claimed that the three-hour parking limit was hurting their business. That’s why the information being gathered is focused on how suspending the time limit is impacting consumer behavior. For the most part, business is up since March 1.

“We have businesses that have reported as much as a 30 percent sales increase,” Lesley said. “Some have reported as much as a 50 percent increase in foot traffic.  So, we have some businesses that have been doing well with it. However, we do have a small number of businesses that have had challenges. A lot of that has been because of their location. They are reporting that sales and foot traffic are down.”

The study will wrap up in about two weeks.

“The parking committee and the DDA will then look at the data,” Lesley said. “If it is determined that any changes to parking need to be made, we will make recommendations to the Rome City Commission. As of right now, we are just looking at small, short-term, you know, low-hanging fruit that we might be able to change to help make parking a more positive experience for downtown. However, we want to wait until the study is done before making any decisions.”

The three-hour parking limit will once again be enforced beginning on May 1.

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