Free Parking? Evaluating the Impacts of the Downtown Eugene On-Street Parking Program on Retail Establishments
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With one‐third of the average downtown dedicated to parking, the issue of how to store the private automobile plays a dominant role in public policy decisions. Several studies indicate that a well thought out on‐street parking policy can positively influence economic development in an urban core. In an effort to improve patron perception of downtown and increase retail activity, the City of Eugene implemented a free two‐hour parking program in its downtown core. I use a survey completed by 63 downtown business owners and a series of on‐street parking counts to assess whether the program has succeeded in increasing retail activity and to inform a series of recommendations to the City. Although daily on‐street occupancy rates are greater than before the program and the free parking seems to be preferred by the business community, I question its to capacity to facilitate a sustained increase in patronage in downtown Eugene.