FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --There are five city owned parking garages in Downtown Fresno. They are generally less than half full most of the time.
At the same time, finding a metered parking spot Downtown can be a challenge.
City Manager Bruce Rudd thinks the solution is to make street parking more expensive and offer one free hour of parking in the garages to lure in customers.
"If you increase the cost of parking meters but provide free parking in the garage where you have plenty of capacity, that gives you the opportunity to capture part of that market a little more than we are now."
One proposal is to boost the cost of meters from the current 75 cents an hour to a dollar. And ultimately go to a tiered system with smart meters that can adjust prices, up to a dollar and a half an hour when demand for parking is high.
The money would be used to refurbish the garages, making downtown more desirable. City Council Member Steve Brandau didn't see the logic.
"If the goal is about bringing people Downtown and revitalizing Downtown and we are going to do that by raising rates? I think there is a clash of objectives there."
In addition, the administration is proposing boosting the monthly cost to rent a space in a parking garage to $60 from the current $35.
The goal of the parking rate changes is to generate about $300,000 a year to maintain and help pay the debt on parking structures. Otherwise, Rudd says the money would come from the general fund, which is used for police and parks and other city services.
The city council is studying the plan to increase the cost of Downtown parking and is expected to vote on it next week.