The streets of Downtown are less crowded. The traffic hasn't slowed, but the number of open parking spaces along the streets has increased. In early July, the City of Albuquerque installed 14 parking meters along Central between First and Seventh Streets [RE: Newscity, "Both Sides of the Street," July 6-12], which convert the formerly two-hour free parking zone into pay-only.
The installation of parking meters raised the concern of Roy Sumner Johnson, who owns Sumner & Dene Creations in Art, a Downtown business. In July, he said he was worried the parking meters would hinder the already struggling Downtown retail economy. Now, more than two months later, Johnson says he hasn't seen any direct change in business but has heard complaints from customers about being ticketed in the area. "They need to do better signage, so people don't get parking tickets," he says, adding that some customers say they're not aware of the new meter system. "It's almost like a little speed trap the city has set up."
Nick Manole, owner of Nick's Crossroads Café, has supported the parking meters along Central since they were first announced. He says the parking meters have helped open spaces that were once filled by Downtown employees abusing the free parking, but Manole agrees with Johnson about the signs. “People are getting ticketed because they don't know the new system is in. That's the only negative,” he says.
Mark Motsko from the Department of Municipal Development says the department hasn't heard any complaints about the meters and hopes people take notice of the signs already posted in the area.