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Last week, a local columnist tried to make the case for free, on-street parking in downtown Louisville. He seemed to believe that if all parking meters disappeared from downtown streets overnight, it would create a more welcoming environment for shoppers and other visitors, and increase economic activity in the center city.
But there's one big problem with this hypothesis: If parking on city streets was suddenly free, parking spots for visitors would cease to exist entirely! The tens of thousands of people who work downtown would surely nab every available space by no later than 8 AM every day, and those cars would stay there all day.
Not exactly a great way to make sure visitors from the suburbs can get reasonable access to downtown restaurants and other businesses.
The way things stand now, the meters ensure that no one occupies a space any longer than they have to. And because so many stops are relatively short, the cost of parking at a meter is almost always considerably less than you'd have to pay to use a parking garage.
Yes, the perfect parking spot is hard to find on a weekday downtown. But the last thing we should do is make it impossible. Besides, those dimes and quarters provide a significant revenue source for the city. And anything that painless that helps pay the bills is OK in my book.