Gainesville City Commission approves changes to downtown parking rates

Published on March 21, 2024

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The Gainesville City Commission today unanimously approved changes to downtown Gainesville parking rates after hearing recommendations based on the results of a recent parking study and on feedback from downtown stakeholders. The changes would become effective this fall.

“The parking study highlighted a great point about the perceived lack of parking,” said Mike Palmer of Go Downtown, a group of downtown business owners, landlords and residents. “Many of the complaints we hear about the distances people walk downtown are easily dispelled when you think about how far you actually walk at places like Butler Plaza or The Oaks Mall,” he said.

The parking changes convert free parking spaces in the center of downtown into paid, time-limited spaces, weekdays ($0.50/hour with a 2-hour time limit). Parking spaces outside the downtown core will be reduced to either $0.25/hour – or free – with no time limit, weekdays. Downtown parking remains free on weekends and on city-observed holidays – except for spaces in the SW Parking Garage on Southwest Third Street.

The new rates are designed to stimulate turnover of high-demand spaces in the heart of downtown as well as encourage drivers to find less expensive and long-term parking spaces in the periphery. 

“This is creating the infrastructure that allows us to figure out how to price things correctly so there is parking that’s paid where it needs to be, and free parking where there needs to be,” said Gainesville City Commissioner Bryan Eastman. 

New pay stations, that accept both coins and credit cards, will be installed throughout downtown in the coming months. The city commission voted to increase the proposed number of new pay stations from two to as many as five. They also directed staff to reach out to public agencies downtown about opening up their parking lots in the evenings after business hours to further increase the supply of parking spaces. 

“We’ll keep building on this so that people are finding the spots that they need open when they want to get there, and we’re helping turn over those spots for those downtown businesses,” said Commissioner Eastman.

SP+, a consulting firm specializing in parking management, developed a parking survey and gathered feedback from downtown stakeholders during a public workshop as well as meetings with downtown business owners and with Alachua County offices. The recommendations align with best practices in parking management. 

Results of the survey found the majority of survey respondents expect to find parking readily available – within five minutes or less – and were willing to pay more than $0.50/hour for the most convenient parking spaces. When parking is free, the majority of respondents were willing to walk 3-5 minutes or more to their destinations. 

There are more than 2,000 parking spaces in downtown Gainesville. Parking enforcement hours will be adjusted to 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday through Friday, once the changes take effect. 

In addition to the few remaining coin-based parking meters downtown, drivers currently are able to pay for downtown parking via the PassportParking app, online or by calling 352-290-3700.

In advance of today’s meeting, city staff posted frequently asked questions online as well as a timeline of past changes to downtown parking.

View the updated parking changes FAQs

The new rates are expected to take effect this fall.