Chattanooga parking meter rates will go up, and more hours will be enforced starting Sept. 1.
The new rate will be $1 an hour, as opposed to the previous rate of 75 cents an hour for parking in Chattanooga. Meters will be enforced until 6 p.m. on weekdays instead of 4:30 p.m. Hours will be enforced on Saturdays.
Allison Ferrell said she pays around $5 to $10 a night for parking when she goes out. When there's a special event, it could go as high as $15.
"A dollar an hour?" Ferrell said. "It's kind of expensive."
Although the new rules begin Sept. 1, they won't be enforced until Oct. 1, said Brent Matthews of CARTA in a news release. During September, violators of the new extended hours rule will be given a warning.
Parking meters in Chattanooga rose to 50 cents in 1988 and 75 cents in 2008. Matthews said nearby cities — Atlanta, Nashville and Memphis — have rates higher than 75 cents and extended hours. Only Charleston, Richmond and Athens, Ga., are still at 75 cents. Knoxville is a combination of 75 cents and $1, he said.
Chris Cooper thinks an optimal price for public parking should be $1 for every two hours.
"Yeah, I'd say that'd be fair," he said.
Matthews called the current 4:30 p.m. hours "old school" in the release and added that the downtown area is no longer dead after that time.
With the price increase, he hopes to see spots turn over more.
Now, because Saturday parking is free, a lot of the spots are taken by downtown workers and not tourists and locals, he said.