Columbia Business Owners Worried About Parking Rates Increasing

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COLUMBIA - Some Columbia business owners are worried they may lose customers because of increased parking fees.

The City of Columbia's budget went into effect Tuesday.

All garages, uncovered, covered, reserved and surface lots, are now more expensive. All monthly permits increased by $10, quarterly permits increased by $30 and yearly permits increased by $110.

All parking meters south of Locust increased from $0.75 to $1.00 per hour.

The manager of Britches Clothing on 9th Street said she had no idea parking fees went up.

Kayla Melton has a designated spot in a parking lot behind her store, but she is the only one.

"Everybody else has to either walk or find their own parking spot," Kayla Melton said. 

A downtown employee said he already pays $5 each day to park, but he's more concerned about losing business.

"If prices keep going up for meters, people may choose to go to another barber shop that has a parking lot," Greg Elbel said. "I'm worried people may stop coming here." 

Columbia residents were also unaware of the changes and irritated about the increased fees.

Bryon Whitton said he parks in one of the uncovered parking structures downtown.

"When I first got the pass, it was $60. Then a month later they raised it to $65. Now I hear they're raising it again not even a year later and it just seems kind of ridiculous to me," Whitton said.

Another Columbia resident said he rarely pays for metered parking because he never has enough spare change and all of the credit card meters are taken.

"People that are new to Columbia may go someplace other than downtown if parking keeps going up," Radge Nelson said.