The City of Charleston’s plans to bolster parking restrictions has sparked outcry from the city’s hospitality workers and its college students.
The proposal includes increasing parking meter rates from $1 to $2 per hour and extending the hours of parking enforcement from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The $1 price increase brings the hourly cost of street parking to the equivalent of the hourly cost of parking in City of Charleston owned garages. The increased prices and enforcement hours are intended to turnover and free-up parking spots downtown for visitors.
For those who regularly drive downtown for work or school, the increased prices will quickly add up. Over 100 hospitality workers protested the new restrictions outside City Hall on Tuesday. Because many of Charleston’s hospitality workers live off the peninsula and drive to work every day, they rely on affordable parking rates.
“Is it really practical for a server in the middle of the dinner rush to leave their restaurant for 20+ minutes in order to move their car? Jonathan Graham, a restaurant worker and one of the protest’s organizers asked on its Facebook page. “Charleston is already an expensive city in which to live: is it reasonable to expect downtown employees to come up with an extra $120 or more a month to pay for parking just so they can work?”
Charleston’s options for public transportation are limited which is a major reason the parking restrictions have faced so much backlash. However, CARTA will be offering a $5 park and ride lot. The lot has about 170 spaces, which many argue is not enough.