Parking Passes

Parked cars line West Mendenhall Street on Friday afternoon in downtown Bozeman.

People could eventually have to pay to park along some of downtown Bozeman’s edges.

Bozeman city commissioners talked about creating a Downtown Parking Management District late into the night Monday. As the clock neared 11 p.m., commissioners agreed to push back the vote on a district to March 2, saying they wanted more time to discuss the idea. 

If approved, the district would create a framework for the Bozeman Parking Commission to make parking zones within the neighborhoods abutting downtown, requiring people to pay for parking permits.

Bozeman parking program manager Ed Meece said the goal of the zones would be to solve parking problems where they exist based on data.

“The purpose of the parking benefit zones is not to cover as much real estate as possible,” Meece said.

People who commute downtown or live in an apartment along the edge could also buy a permit, though from a limited stock and at a higher price than people who live in a standalone house.

Meece said one of the problems the city is trying to solve is increased competition for off-street parking in the neighborhoods around Bozeman’s core.

He said parking management downtown will likely get more hands-on as development continues. That could mean the city’s parking garage rates increase to “market rates” or timed parking lots could eventually cost money, he said.

Meece said he expects that increased management will push more people to search for parking in the neighborhoods within a few blocks of downtown.

The city already regulates parking in the core of downtown, which includes timed, free parking lots and the city’s paid parking garage. The district would extend that authority by roughly 1,000 feet in every direction.

No parking zones would be established overnight. Meece said there’s no specifics yet about exactly where zones within the district could go or how much the permits would cost.

According to the draft, a petition signed by 60% of property owners within the district could initiate the process to create, change or dissolve the zone. Each zone would go through public comment, whether provoked by the commission or homeowners.

The zones are designed to cover their own costs through the permits and paid, timed parking. Any money left over could either lead to lower permits for residents the next year, or street improvements within the zone.

Katheryn Houghton can be reached at khoughton@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2628.

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