NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The city says drivers can expect to pay more to park starting early next year. But one group is still fighting to keep that from happening.
"You can email the mayor, you can email your City Council members, tell them this is not really great. It's not a good incentive to get people into the French Quarter, to get them into the CBD. It's going to unfairly, kind of, penalize people that are just trying to do their jobs," said Chris Lane.
Lane organized an online petition opposing the mayor's plan to increase parking meter rates and extend the hours drivers have to pay. The petition has hundreds of signatures, from people who work in the French Quarter, to business owners, to musicians. Lane said he delivered the petition to the mayor's office.
"We've been having this ongoing dialogue with all parts of the city government right now, and we hope to continue that through the implantation date," said Lane. "What we've been doing with this dialogue is formulating alternatives to this that are revenue neutral, that aren't going to impact the city budget and try to give these options to the City Council, to the administration, and let them kind of mull them over a little bit."
As it stands now, the mayor plans to increase parking meter rates from $1.50 to $2 an hour. That will jump to $3 an hour in the French Quarter and the CBD. Drivers will also have to pay until 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Currently, the meters stop at 6 p.m. The mayor's office has said that will bring prices in line with competitive market rates. But, a French Quarter business owner said it's going to keep customers away and make it harder for employees.
"If you do that, what you are doing is pushing out all of the citizen-class workers, and you are pushing them further and further away, which this city is pretty dangerous you want to keep your workers right next to where they work," said French Quarter business owner Daniel Garcia.
Others who work in the Quarter have the same concerns.
"People that just barely make it, you know, working a nine to five, is not going to barely make it anymore," said Corey Riley.
The mayor's office sent the following statement:
"The City has met with neighborhood groups and members of our hospitality industry to hear their concerns and suggestions to improve parking and relieve traffic congestion downtown. Our goal is to better manage the City's limited number of curbside spaces, which is consistent with best practices and expert advice that parking meter rates should be priced based on market forces. Using fair market pricing for short-term on-street parking helps decrease congestion and increase accessibility which will ultimately improve commerce."
Lane said he is still talking with city leaders and he's optimistic they'll be able to reach some sort of compromise. One alternative the opposition is suggesting is increasing the fine drivers get for not paying the meter. The mayor's office said they will announce next week the start date for the new rates.