Countless shoppers are being discouraged from spending their money in Downtown Boulder due to the city’s harsh parking policy — meters on every block, and city officials ready to pounce on your car with a ticket as soon as your time has expired. Although some believe that parking revenue is critical funding for our city, I believe that the City of Boulder is losing more in sales tax revenue than is being collected through quarters in the meter. Put simply, people willing to spend their dollars in Boulder are much less likely to do so because of the parking policy, and instead are shopping in neighboring communities or online.
A few examples from my family’s experiences: we prefer to shop online or in Louisville, Superior or Broomfield to avoid parking tickets; we have cut short our shopping trips (and spending!) when in downtown Boulder to be sure to return to our car in time; and we have received parking tickets when eating out on a Friday night because of an obscure sign disallowing parking after 8 p.m.
According to the city’s own figures, sales tax revenue on Pearl Street dropped by over 10 percent and revenue in East Downtown dropped by over 20 percent. This was between 2008 and 2009 when they installed the new parking meters. This is mostly due to people choosing to shop online or at larger malls outside of Boulder, because they do not have to worry about paying for parking.
The City of Boulder’s parking policy is shortsighted and narrow-minded. Rather than serving our city, it creates a feeling of being uninvited and excluded. Many downtown employees have lost their jobs because stores have closed due to decreased commercial activity.
Does the city really think that the money from parking meters makes up for the loss of shoppers to downtown Boulder? The city needs to change its focus from quarters in the meters to dollars from sales tax revenue, not to mention creating a better feeling of community in our downtown area.
The city doesn’t have time or money to waste with this shortsighted policy. We have suffered enough with competition from the internet and our neighboring suburbs. The city needs to refocus on bringing the community, and its precious dollars, back to our downtown.