Raleigh visitors may have to pay more to park downtown

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Downtown Raleigh visitors could end up paying more to park (WTVD)

Trying to find a parking spot on the street in downtown Raleigh can be tough. Sometimes it's so frustrating, people say they avoid downtown altogether.

City officials are trying to figure out a solution, but it could mean you'll be putting more money in the meter.

Some say it's already expensive to park downtown, and that's on top of just trying to find a space in the first place.

"We've had customers call us and say they've circled the block twice and they're still looking for parking," said Raleigh Raw co-owner Leslie Woods. "And often times, we'll run things to their car and do a curbside pickup service for them just because they can't find parking."

Woods said attracting new customers can be even harder.

"One of our first major complaints is parking is such an issue, and not only can we not find it, it's already expensive as it is," Woods explained.

The City of Raleigh is now spending time and money investigating the frustration. A Raleigh consulting firm's study shows new residential developments, an expanding nightlife, and special events are straining the existing parking system.

Among the recommendations, the city is considering raising on-street parking rates from $1 per hour to $1.25-$1.50 per hour. The city is also considering extending the meter hours until 9 or 10 p.m.

Consultants also want to charge a fee in the city's parking garages around the clock.

"With my kids, I can't come back in an hour and put the coins in again," said Subba Singana, a frustrated Raleigh driver.

Downtown Raleigh resident Brittany Goodman thinks a hike might even keep people away.

"It's going to stop people from just coming and parking and walking around and discovering the stuff they have downtown," Goodman said.

Woods said while raising the rates might be best for the city, it's not the best option for visitors.

"It does add up for families who are making the trip downtown," Woods said. "It's disappointing to see that they're going to continually hike the rates versus things like building a new parking deck for people and giving different access options to get into the city."

City council members haven't committed to any of these recommendations. They city's mayor said she's open to options as long as they don't weaken the downtown economy.

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