Paid parking meters could be right around the corner for downtown San Marcos if City Council approves a proposal to curb non-customer parking.
The decision to implement the Parking Management Program, an 11-step plan that lays out impacts on downtown businesses, San Marcos residents and Texas State students, was postponed from the Feb. 19 meeting to an undetermined date.
Downtown business owners like Royal Cleaners owner Martha Salas think the current free two-hour parking limit is being abused by students who park and scurry to class, taking up spots that would otherwise go to customers. Instead of driving to work, Salas’ husband drops her off, all in hopes to save the parking space for a potential customer.
“I would prefer to leave it open for a customer, but I’m really just leaving it open for a student,” Salas said.
The proposed parking meters will charge $1 an hour on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. with a two-hour limit.
Salas said parking meters will help the current parking situation downtown but the city will have to keep close to make it effective
“If they do put up meters, that would be great,” Salas said. “But then they would also have to monitor to keep it; to make it work.”
John Redding, a baker at Gil’s Broiler, said the Square-located burger joint has a lot of students walk to the restaurant because of its proximity to Texas State, but there still isn’t enough parking spaces for employees and customers.
“The parking now is terrible,” Redding said. “We have a regular number of parking spaces, not just for this shop, but for all the shops in the area.”
Kevin Burke, the assistant director of community services for the city of San Marcos, said there will be designated areas for employees where the meters will allow longer parking.
“The city has a really valuable asset: it’s (on-the-street parking),” Burke said. “And currently, we don’t believe that we are managing that asset as efficiently and as effectively as we can. So the intent of our overall Parking Management Program is to do just that; to manage the system for the overall benefit of the community.”
The main item on the table for decision by the council is the On-Street Paid Parking Implementation Plan, which had its vote postponed with no set date. This plan includes paid parking meters. The council has already adopted the Framework Plan, which laid out what the entire program would do and why.
Part of the plan will see downtown divided into parking benefit districts, where revenues will go back into the city’s parking management.
“The idea of the parking benefit district is two things,” Burke said. “It’s the area in which we manage parking, and it’s the area within which we reinvest the proceeds that we generate through parking management. All of it’s going to be for parking benefits of some sort.”
Burke said the program would be implemented in small phases, and what they have proposed to the council is to begin at the south end of the square on San Antonio Street and work their way north to campus.
The University Star will continue to update with more information. For more information, visit https://www.sanmarcostx.gov/1669/Parking-Management.