People looking to park in downtown Racine, uptown Racine and west Racine will now get a reprieve from plugging parking meters on Saturdays in December.
The Racine Common Council voted 12 to one in favor of the resolution at a meeting held Tuesday night. Alderman Jason Meekma voted against the resolution.
Racine City Alderman Ray DeHahn proposed the resolution for free parking on Saturdays in December for all metered parking spaces in downtown Racine, but that resolution was amended to include uptown Racine and west Racine.
The goal: “to encourage holiday activities downtown.”
But Mary Jerger-Osterman, who owns a hat shop called Copacetic, told the Common Council that the problem isn’t having to pay the meters.
“The challenge is that you have to pay with a nickels, dimes or quarters… the solution is that we need to join the 21st century and be able to pay differently with an app or a credit card,” she said. “My fear is that if we put this into reality, that it’ll be abused by downtown residents.”
The city has already bid out a new metering system that would allow parking meters to be paid for by a credit card and with a phone app, but they won’t be in place until after the first of the year.
In downtown Racine, the spaces affected would include: meters on-street, in parking lots, and the McMynn parking ramp. The downtown area would include the area one block north of State St. south to 9th St. and from the block west of Center St. east to Lake Michigan. DeHahn doesn’t want the Racine Police Department to enforce the time limits or the city to collect any parking fees on Dec. 10, 17, 24 and 31.
Alderman Jeff Coe pointed to how the Downtown Racine Corporation emailed 60 of the businesses in their membership. Sixteen of 25 to 30 business that responded favored the resolution, but five opposed it. The others wanted the city to open up the ramps only.
Coe said he was not against free parking.
“But I don’t think we’re going to accomplish what we want to with this because people aren’t going to move their cars,” he said.
Alderman Michael Shields asked that the resolution also include the parking in uptown and west Racine on those same Saturdays.
The resolution will cost the city at least $8,000 in lost parking revenue from fees and violations because that was only an estimate that included the downtown.