Not! I don’t know of a place on the planet where removing parking meters (or parking charges) has increased local business. Let’s see — I pay to park at a local mall in LA, in fact at three of the malls I frequent. Is it the parking that attracts me to the mall — I don’t think so.
Its the stores, shops, street scene, clubs, restaurants, concerts, movie theaters, buskers, and the rest. If you build it they will come, and its more than a line in a movie.
The city of Santa Monica had basically free parking in the six structures in its downtown area. And the place was dead. Now they have revitalized the area with a walking mall, new stores, great entertainment, and frankly, its a fun place to visit. They charge in the garages now and people line up to pay.
However in Wilmington and San Pedro areas of LA, the merchants are sure that those parking meters keep people away. I don’t know those areas very well, but I am certain that there will not be a bump in revenue when the meters are gone. The merchant’s employees will be happy because they can park out front without having to feed a meter. If having to pay a couple of bucks to park keep people from shopping, then there isn’t much to shop for.
These merchants need to look inward and find solutions to their lack of customer problems. People need a reason to come to an area that is more than buying something in a store. People like to walk, look, see and be seen. They like to sit in the shade and watch the passing scene. Then, they will also look in windows, see something they like, and voila…a sale. Parking has nothing to do with it.
When will they ever learn…Its more than a folksong.