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Lansing officials considering revisions to free and paid parking hours

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Officials in Lansing are planning to examine possible revisions to how free and paid parking is administered in the city after its Free Parking Fridays initiative created a significant hit to its income.

Mayor Andy Schor's administration started the free parking program last year to try and generate activity downtown as visits dwindled during the pandemic. With fewer state employees coming back in-person and more remote workers, the goal was to encourage visitors to stop by at restaurants and shops in Lansing.

Schor says local businesses appreciated the program, which ended last month. Officials estimated it cost the city about $15,000 in lost parking revenue a month.

That adds up to a total loss of about $150,000 dollars over the 10 months on-street metered parking was free on Fridays.

Schor said he doesn’t want residents to be burdened with covering the cost of free parking.

“We don't want the citizens the residents that live here in Lansing to have to subsidize our parking system," he said. "So we just couldn't afford it.”

The mayor has proposed a $75,000 parking study to examine the hours and spaces offered for vehicles. He said the study will help officials strike a balance between maintaining an inflow of cash and attracting visitors. Options could include offering free parking to visitors for take-out meals from restaurants.

Schor added the study would help Lansing modernize its parking enforcement.

"They're going to look at everything," he said. "They're going to look at the hours, they're going to look at the spaces, they're going to look at where load zones are needed, they're going to look at, you know, what, what should a 21st century parking system look like?”

The mayor said the study would also help the city adjust to new patterns of activity downtown. He said the city is starting to see more visitors return to the area. With more housing and apartments being built nearby, local residents who work from home are also stopping by after-hours.

The study is part of Schor’s budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. That budget still needs to be approved by the Lansing City Council.

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
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