BOZEMAN — As the City of Bozeman continues to grow, empty parking spaces are becoming a rarity and now the city is looking at other alternatives for parking downtown.
“Even five years ago coming downtown on a random Wednesday you could find a parking spot on the street easily,” said Downtown employee Mary Bertagnolli.
Today that's just not the case anymore. At a commission meeting earlier this month, staff recommended that the City Commission implement seasonal paid parking downtown.
“That means charging for parking from May 1st to September 30th,” said Bozeman’s Economic Development Manager Mike Veselik.
This comes after a study conducted last summer found that parking in Bozeman is at around 85% capacity.
“In information about the occupancy study we did in August which showed that parking downtown is pretty full,” Veselik said.
For employees who work downtown, they say it's a daily choice.
“Do you want to be not late to work today or get a $20 parking ticket for the day,” says Bertagnolli.
For Sam Rickenbaugh, owner of Rocky Mountain Toy Company, his worry isn't for his employees, but for his local customers.
“I do think it'll deter locals from coming downtown. I think finding parking is hard already and then having to pay for it will make it harder,” says Rickenbaugh.
The plan with the paid parking is to take the revenue and be able to invest in other alternatives to help people get downtown and maintain pedestrian safety.
“Paid parking is one of the most effective tools in the parking industry to do that; not only does it allow us to actively manage the demand, but it allows us to create more supply,” says Veselik.
Right now, the plan is still a proposal in the early stages and the City Commission has yet to make a final decision.