NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Parking in Metro-Nashville has become more challenging as more people visit and move here every day.
In East Nashville, the parking issue has created problems for businesses, residents and Metro police.
One of the biggest issues police, businesses and residents all say is that a lot started charging for parking nearly two months ago.
“At this point in the day, that lot would’ve been full or nearly full,” Leslie Allen told News 2. “It’s really sad because you look over across the street and you see an empty lot sitting there.”
Allen owns “I Dream of Weenie,” a gourmet hot-dog stand in East Nashville.
She says without much notice or input, the Metropolitan Development and Housing Authority (MDHA), started charging for parking nearly two months ago.
“In comparing our numbers from last year, we’ve seen a significant decrease in our business since the lot changed over to a paid lot,” said Allen.
Metro police say the paid lot, coupled with the growth in East Nashville, has even created safety issues.
“Folks don’t want to pay for parking, so all of those cars that used to be in those lots are now scattered out into the neighborhoods,” said Sgt. Michael Fisher, Community Affairs Coordinator for the Metro Police Department’s East Precinct.
Sgt. Fisher says the East Precinct has been inundated with calls about cars blocking hydrants, bike lanes and driveways.
“So we talked to our traffic guys and said we have to do some strict enforcement,” said Sgt. Fisher. “We have to let folks know that we’re listening and not ignoring these complaints coming in and also let folks know that if they park illegally, they stand to get a ticket.”
Sgt. Fisher says people who have been ticketed and towed are angry with police but he says, the increased enforcement is a necessary move.
So why did the lot, which was free for over 20 years, start to charge?
MDHA says the parking lot needed work and maintenance so it could no longer offer free parking. That work included repaving, striping, repairs and lighting.
MDHA says they don’t set the parking rates. The company they hired to manage the lot, SP+ Parking, sets the rates.
News 2 received a statement from Michael Wolf of SP+ Parking, who said, “This particular lot, which had been a free lot for many years, had experienced significant physical deterioration. The owner hired us to improve the lot through repaving and enhanced ongoing maintenance, and to generate revenue in connection with the associated costs.
Please bear in mind that parking at its core is a classic example of the basic “supply and demand” principle that drives the U.S. economic system; this lot’s rates are competitive with the marketplace.
We have worked closely with our neighbors to roll out the paid parking program, as it’s never our intent to harm our patrons or neighboring businesses. Accordingly, we posted signs about the impending change long before it occurred, and actually adjusted our timing to accommodate the Tomato Art Festival.”