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New Downtown Parking Ordinance in Bismarck

Main Avenue in Downtown Bismarck
No Re-Parking Ordinance Sign

No Re-Parking Ordinance Sign

The Bismarck City Commission passed a new parking ordinance last evening that will restrict vehicles from parking on the same block within the same four-hour span of time. As with the current ordinance, all vehicles must be moved within 90 minutes.

Instead of marking vehicles with chalk, vehicles’ license plates will be entered into a tracking system along with their location at the time. If the vehicle still remains after 90 minutes they will be in violation of the parking ordinance, or, if the vehicle had returned to the same block with the same four-hour span.

While I will agree that improvements do need to be made in downtown’s parking situation, I do not believe that this is the right move. I do have some concerns.

To begin with, I doubt most out-of-town visitors to downtown will even be aware of this ordinance. Secondly, I wonder what the added administrative costs would be to enforce this? I would imagine it takes more time to enter the vehicle into their tracking program than simply marking a tire with chalk.

What happens if I patronage a store in downtown at 9:00am and am lucky enough to find a spot right outside. I leave after 1 hour, long enough to get recorded, but then return at noon to grab a bite to eat at the restaurant next door to the store I had visited 3 hours earlier and happen to find a parking spot within the same block. Will I come out to find a ticket on my window?

Other Possible Solutions

Available spots were plentiful inside the Parkade on this busy afternoon.

Available spots were plentiful inside the Parkade on this busy afternoon.

As I’ve said in the past, to improve downtown’s parking situation, we need to find a parking solution for its employees that would free up parking for visitors. One way of doing this would be to offer free parking passes to downtown businesses for its employees during the hours of 8:00am-5:00pm. Or, allow free one-hour parking for visitors inside the ramps. Yes, this would reduce some funding sources to maintain the ramps; however, making downtown more convenient will help attract patrons to do business more often in the district.

Another option would be to offer free or discounted bus service from each Gateway and Kirkwood to downtown; in a way, establishing two park-and-rides for downtown visitors and employees to free up parking spaces in downtown.

City officials believe another parking ramp with help solve the downtown parking situation, but I disagree. There are still plenty of open parking spots in the current ramps each time I visit downtown. Commuters just don’t use them, either for their inconvenience or cost or combination of both. This will still be the case for a new parking ramp. The unrelated newly approved parking ramp that is being paid for and shared by both hospitals will help relieve some downtown parking, thankfully.

What are your thoughts of this new parking ordinance? Share your opinion below.