Michele Lionardi and Lisa Holt of College Park, have started ditching their city's shopping venues for stores in Hyattsville.
The reason: parking meters.
Comments left about a parking survey might shed the most light on what influences consumers when deciding where to shop now a days—the new parking meters in downtown College Park.
“I am not alone among my neighbors in boycotting College Park shopping center since they installed those money-hungry inconvenient parking meters,” wrote Michele Leonardi, referring to the credit card parking meters that replaced the coin meters this summer.
“I find the new pay station at the shopping center so annoying. The meters were so much easier,” wrote Lisa Holt.
The minimum amount a parker can pay is 25 cents for 20 minutes of parking. Credit card users are forced to pay a 75-cent minimum for an hour of parking since the city must pay a 25-cent fee for every credit card transaction, Patch reported in August.
But expatriate College Park shoppers beware. Rumblings of parking meters around Hyattsville’s commercial areas, including Franklin’s Restaurant, have been heard for some time.
Earlier this year, Carol Cron, former owner of Three Brothers Italian Restaurant at University Town Center, said parking was a big part of the reason their franchise floundered.
UTC offers a parking garage and a parking lot for patrons.
“Parking was a joke,” Cron said. “Putting meters in the lot across from Five Guys was fine—prevent employees and Metro users from parking there ... but they were 24/7! How stupid is that?”
You can park in the parking garages at UTC for up to two hours before paying. There is also a parking lot along East West Highway where patrons can use credit card parking meters to pay. There are a few short-term parking spaces along America Boulevard, which runs through the center, which don’t require payment.
In Hyattsville, UTC isn’t the only problem parking area.
Liz Alexander, owner of Under the Coconut Tree, told Patch that one major issue facing her business is enforced parking along Baltimore Avenue. Her restaurant faces a part of the street that has meters and patrons picking up their take out food don’t have a place to park while they run inside.
And at The Shoppes at Arts District Hyattsville, where Tara Thai and Essential Day Spa are located, parking is free, but slim pickins’ during the evenings when the venues get very busy. One patron, Lynn Cotturo, commented that the situation is irritating.
“Hope they do something about the parking before customers get frustrated and leave for good—took me 30 [minutes] to find parking on Saturday night,” she wrote on Patch.
Vincent Jones, Hyattsville’s former city administrator, discussed the parking meters matter with the City Council on multiple occasions before he left his post in summer.
Meters, he told the council then, can be good in areas with little parking so patrons come and go within a lesser amount of time.
Talk about meters in Hyattsville has included the arts district, Queens Chapel Town Center and other smaller shopping locales.
No decisions have been made.
In College Park, city staff told Patch that the meters were put in for convenience.
You can let your thoughts be known by taking College Park Patch's poll about the meters.