City Council on Monday unanimously approved making the rules permanent from May 1 through Nov. 1 in four downtown parking lots: behind Kirby House, Grand Haven Brewhouse and Tri-Cities Historical Museum, and the Centertown lot between The Bookman and Michigan Auto. The time limits would be in effect from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Per the approved resolution, several parking spaces on the east end of each of the affected parking lots are not restricted. All-day parking will be permitted in these sections.
Mayor Geri McCaleb noted that she was in favor of the the summertime restrictions.
“Three hours to me is quite a length of time,” McCaleb said, adding there are other options available for people who know they are going to be longer than three hours.
These parking lots include the Harbourfront Place parking lot, the Tip-A-Few Tavern parking lot, and the city-owned lots on the north side of Washington.
“If you know you are going to be longer than that (three hours), there are those lots,” McCaleb said.
The city implemented temporary rules at the beginning of June to try the new rules over the summer.
Grand Haven Main Street chairwoman and Borr’s Bootery owner Sharon Behm said she’s been happy with the temporary rules. Behm noted that while some merchants were not happy with the rules, she thought it was “a home run” in the third block of Washington.
“Borr’s had one of its best years ever,” Behm said. “I am just one merchant who is truly in favor of it.”
Mackinaw Kite Co. owner Steve Negen noted that he was generally in favor of the parking rules, but said he would’ve liked to see the city ask for feedback done to gauge interest from business and property owners about how long into the fall the parking restrictions should last.
“I would just like to see a survey go out to merchants,” he said. “We were under the impression that this was a trial period, and then we got an email that this was going to be done.”
Councilman Mike Fritz noted that he agreed with this idea of seeking out more information, and he urged the city to seek input from downtown businesses about how the restrictions are working.
“It would be nice if we had all of the merchants weigh in,” he said. “I would just like to hear from the merchants and get a feel from all of them.”
The changes to the parking rules are based on findings from a 2016 The Wade-Trim parking study, which was accepted by the city’s Planning Commission, Main Street board and City Council in January. The study notes that while the downtown has a surplus of parking, specific areas in the district have a parking shortage, with surplus space located in other lots.
The idea behind the rule changes is to alleviate some of that stress and provide more opportunity for shoppers and diners to park without the city having to invest in expensive alternatives such as parking decks.