Bar owners fear new parking fees could hurt downtown Raleigh

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Many business owners in downtown Raleigh are making it clear they are not happy with new parking fees set to go into effect at the end of this year.

The issue is Friday and Saturday nights, which are peak business time downtown.

The City Council is debating parking fees for downtown Raleigh. (WNCN)
PHOTOS: Raleigh debates charging for downtown parking on weekends

The business owners on Tuesday asked the city to leave a window until 9 at night, when the city won’t charge people $5 dollars to park here.

David Meeker, co-owner of the Busy Bee Café, said, ‘We want to encourage dinner business and daytime weekend business.”

Downtown Raleigh has grown and business has grown with it. That has led to concerns at the city about how to maintain downtown, especially the parking lots that can get trashed on weekends. The city is looking at setting fees to cover cleanups costs.

But several business owners are worried the city’s new parking fees could hurt their bottom line.

“That’s why we’re begging you guys to start small with this,” said David Meeker, the son of former Raleigh mayor Charles Meeker.

The current plan is for the city to start charging $5 to park in city decks at night starting Dec. 31.

“We need a number of janitorial nights to make a difference in the cleanliness,” said Mike Kennon of Raleigh Public Works.

Now, though, the Public Works Department is recommending that people be allowed to park for free on Sundays, excluding special events.

Those downtown business owners are asking the city to go further by waiting to charge until 9 p.m. at night on Friday and Saturday, to accommodate the dinner crowd.

“We need to start slower to see what percent of folks don’t come downtown anymore because they have to pay $5 to park,” David Meeker said.

Right now, there is a charge to park before 7 p.m. during the week.

The council said it would take this matter up again at its next meeting in November and it’s possible the start date could be pushed back.

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