NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Business owners and locals are fired up over a city proposal that would raise parking meter rates and extend the hours you have to pay to park.
Gisele Cosma says if customers have to pay more to park, her Magazine Street business will take a big hit.
"It's just going to drive business further and further away from our streets and from any place that anybody can do any business. This is not the way to make New Orleans a better place," said Cosma.
But it will likely soon cost you more to park across the city. Mayor Mitch Landrieu is proposing increasing the hourly rate at parking meters from a $1.50 an hour to $2 an hour. That rate would jump to $3 an hour in the French Quarter and the CBD. Drivers would also have to pay meters until 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, whereas now you only have to pay until 6 p.m. The city says the reasoning behind it is to bring those prices in line with competitive market rates.
"We have a lot of folks from out of town and out of state who are using our short-term parking. Again, it's important to know this is not just New Orleanians who are parking in these meters. We are sharing our curb space with all of the visitors, and it's appropriate that they pay a competitive price for that," said city Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin.
Lower Garden District business owner Karen Hutchinson hopes the city will reconsider. She says she already hears complaints from customers.
"It's going to dampen business in the area, you know? Right now it's at 6 o'clock, and I have seen an effect on my business already," said Hutchinson.
But, it looks like that rate increase will become a reality. The City Council has already given the mayor the authority to raise the price and extend the hours at meters, despite strong criticism from the public. There's already a Facebook page devoted to fighting the rate hike called "New Orleans Citizens for Fair Parking."
The city says that rate increase will likely go into effect at the first of the new year. The city projects it will generate more than $4 million a year. That money will go into the city's general fund.