Some upset over downtown event parking

October 28, 2009 8:44:30 PM PDT
The City of Raleigh normally doesn't charge for parking on weekends. But during special events, drivers are charged a $7 flat rate at the public lots closest to the action. However, Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker says it's essentially a convenience fee.

People who frequent downtown Raleigh are used to paying for parking, but the prices they say they saw Saturday at the Raleigh Wide Open 4 were enough to raise eyebrows.

"I think I saw $7, I think I saw $8, and I definitely saw $10, because I remember thinking that's crazy," driver Laura Harris said.

In fact, some outraged drivers told Eyewitness News they paid as much as $15 for a spot.

They say they are angry at the City. But officials say private lots were the ones charging the highest prices, lots they can't legally regulate.

The mayor says all he can do is ask the lot owners to give people a break.

"I would certainly encourage private lot owners to charge no more than the city does and to be very reasonable," Meeker said. "The public is understanding, but shouldn't be taken advantage of because there's a special event.

City officials say they hope the sticker shock some drivers experienced won't discourage them from visiting downtown Raleigh.

"There's always somebody out there trying to get a little too much, go past that person and don't let it deter you from downtown, because it's really a nice place to come to now," Assistant Director of the Raleigh Convention Center Doug Grissom said.

Local residents and officials alike say take the time to search to parking.

"You should be able to see different deck or even street parking you can find," Harris said. "So just drive around and keep looking and eventually you'll find something that's cheaper or free."

Even city structures just two or three blocks from an event are sometimes considered far enough to be free.

So for a little exercise, patrons can save a whole lot of money.

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