Could Paid Parking Ease Snider Plaza’s Parking Woes?

A committee of Snider Plaza merchants, property owners, and nearby residents suggested that paid parking could be a solution to the plaza’s parking crunch.

The Snider Plaza Employee Parking Task Force made preliminary recommendations during the University Park City Council meeting on April 16. It will have a series of conversations with business owners, property owners and residents to gain feedback before making a final recommendation.

“(Snider Plaza parking is) not convenient, as evidenced by customers constantly circling just to find an available space,” task force chair David Rejebian told the council. “It’s not available, when over half of the spaces are occupied by employees of Snider Plaza. And, is it really free? What is the cost of time and the angst spent searching for that parking space?”

Rejebian called Snider Plaza’s parking issues a “68-year-old problem.” He read from the minutes of a 1956 University Park City Commission meeting referring to the difficulty of finding a parking space.

“We feel like for the first time that all of the stakeholders, residents, business owners, property owners, along with the city, are finally pulling on the same rope, because all of us have a vested interest in this,” he said.

The task force, which has met formally eight times since December, suggested that Snider Plaza could charge a fee of $3 per hour for parking, with no charge for the first 15 minutes. The first hour of parking in the Hilltop Plaza garage would remain free.

Parking revenue could be used to fund offsite parking for plaza employees, Rejebian said. The move would come as a cost-saving to the city, which is currently paying for employee parking in the Hilltop garage.

A parking management company could be tasked with enforcement and empowered to fine drivers who did not pay the fee, “taking the city out of all aspects of the parking business in Snider Plaza,” Rejebian said.

A resident-only parking district could be created in streets west of Snider Plaza, where many employees currently park, Rejebian continued, and an ongoing advisory board of area stakeholders created to oversee Snider Plaza parking. 

Excess parking revenue could be used for plaza improvements, and rules could be established for loading and unloading deliveries to reduce congestion.

“We’ve all tried to think outside the box on this, because since 1956 in the box hasn’t worked,” Rejebian said. “And we’ve tried to come up with a plan that provides convenient and available parking at a minimal cost.”

The committee plans to return to the council with recommendations after meetings with stakeholders, which Rejebian said will hopefully be close to completion at the end of May.

In other business, the city council:

  • Approved a request by The Housson Center to hold its fourth annual Mending Minds 5K fun run/walk at Smith Park on Oct. 5, 2024 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Housson Center expects up to 200 participants in this year’s event.
  • Approved continuation of its Snider Plaza parking program for employees, with priority given to businesses most impacted by Snider Plaza construction. The program allows Snider Plaza employees free access to the Hilltop parking garage. The city pays for 100 parking spaces in the garage at a reduced rate of 68 cents per hour.
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