CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – You might not have to pay for parking much longer in downtown Charleston. That proposal went before Charleston City Council during Tuesday night’s meeting.
While the decision was tabled for the night, City Council says they plan on facilitating further discussions about parking in the coming weeks.
Councilman Harry Griffin is the one introducing the proposal in an effort to bring more people to the downtown area to promote business.
Right now, people heading downtown do not have to pay for parking after 6 p.m. but Councilman Griffin wants to extend that measure to around the clock through the rest of the year. He says business isn’t booming on King Street right now like it usually does in the peak of summer.
He believes getting rid of parking would generate more customers.
“I know we’re in a tough financial position as a city, but if you look at what these businesses have gone through, their financial burden is even greater than what we’re going through,” said Councilman Griffin.
Parking fees on the peninsula bring in a lot of revenue annually for the city. Councilman Griffin said Charleston profited $8-million dollars just off of parking last year alone.
While free parking would cut into revenue, Griffin believes there are other ways to make up for the money lost. One of them would be to shut down traffic on King Street more often and allow restaurants to put tables on the sidewalks and in the street.
He also mentioned the city is applying for a loan to make up for the losses from the pandemic and in his opinion said the best benefit to taxpayers would be to use part of the loan money to subsidize parking to generate business.
“I think that if we’re going to be applying for loans to cover our losses, we shouldn’t be trying to profiteer off of our taxpayers at the same time,” said Councilman Griffin.
Charleston City Council will continue to discuss this idea, as well as others to help give back to local businesses that have been affected by the pandemic.