SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales is backing what he calls a compromise after changes to parking prices last year caused an uproar.
Increased parking meter prices won’t budge under a resolution introduced on Wednesday in City Council by Mayor Gonzales, Councilor Signe Lindell and Councilor Renee Villarreal.
Instead, the proposal offers up the first two hours free at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center, Sandoval and Railyard garages, and at the Water Street lot.
As part of an effort to balance the budget, a rate hike in July bumped the price of a parking meter in Santa Fe from $1 an hour to $2, which had businesses worried the steep cost would keep customers away, especially now during the winter months.
That’s when tourism drops and businesses rely more on locals.
“I don’t know if locals are going to come down and pay that kind of parking price,” said Steve Traer, owner of Red River Mercantile. “At that kind of price, unfortunately shopping on Amazon looks real attractive.”
“I’ve noticed locals complain, ‘Oh, we don’t come down as much as we used to because the parking is so expensive,’” said Kathleen Savage, owner of Santa Fe Hemp.
To encourage drivers to utilize parking garages as well, the city said it will add more signs to help point drivers in the right direction to easily find them.
“It’s an ongoing effort to make sure it’s as convenient as possible for people to find and to pay,” Mayor Gonzales said.
The city even plans to roll out a new app so drivers can see what parking spaces are available and pay using their smart phones.
Business owners said the parking proposal is a step in the right direction, but they’d like to see a compromise when it comes to the metered parking rate too.
The Mayor said the resolution to change parking policies likely won’t be up for a vote until next year.