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Locals, tourists react to possible downtown metered parking changes

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The parking meters that have been around for decades will go away if city council approves this resolution. (Photo: Ian Dembling)

When the clock strikes 5 p.m. in Downtown Savannah, parking is free. It's been that way for decades, but all of that could change if the city's proposal goes through.

Sean Brandon, director of mobility and parking services for the city, is suggesting that city council approve a resolution that would cut the hours of free parking at metered spots around the city.

If passed, drivers will have to pay to park at metered spots between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. That would be three hours longer than the rules currently in place on weekdays. On weekends, it's free to park downtown.

"If the numbers are telling us that we're really busy and we're not seeing turnover on a particular day or time, then that tells us we need to do something in terms of either time or pricing," Brandon said.

The possible change isn't sitting well with downtown employees who already have to pay to park whenever they go to work on weekdays.

"I understand why the city is doing it, but it is something we need to think critically about if it's in the interest of the locals," said Phillip Hardy, a manager at B. Matthew's Restaurant.

"Monday through Friday, 8 to 5--I think that's enough," said Melvin Williams, who has worked several jobs downtown over the past 20 years.

The proposal will be addressed to city council on May 11.