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Commercial Permit Parking

Employee / Commercial / Business Parking Permits: Simplifying and Regulating Employee Parking

There are several reasons why a community might want to create an employee parking program for the downtown or business district, such as employees parking in prime on-street spaces, having difficulty finding parking, or having to shuffle their cars repeatedly for lack of all-day parking. Employee parking programs may include establishing designated lots or portions of parking facilities for employees with a permit program to restrict use and/or requiring employees to register their cars so that if they park in valuable on-street spaces they can be ticketed. Employee parking areas are generally less conveniently-located than other parking but allow all-day parking and where parking is priced offer a discounted rate. This encourages employees to leave the most convenient spaces for customers. To encourage employees to carpool or not to drive at all, employee permit parking programs can be combined with preferential parking for carpools and vanpools; special deals for employees on transit passes if public transportation is an option; and/or provision of secure, covered bike parking downtown suitable for all-day use.

While designated employee parking can help alleviate demand for on-street parking, it can mean that designated employee parking facilities are used only during work hours. If demand for parking downtown is substantially lower on evenings and weekends, this may not be a concern. However, if uses such as restaurants, bars, and stores are generating demand for parking outside of business hours, it may make sense to limit the hours during which the employee parking is reserved for permit-holders (e.g. 7AM to 7PM) and allow anyone to use it outside of those hours.

In larger cities, if parking demand is especially high during work hours, it may make sense to establish employee parking facilities on the outskirts of downtown or business districts and provide shuttle service to the core (see remote parking and shuttle service).

Local Examples:
  • The Town of Lexington has an employee permit parking program for Lexington Center that provides lower-cost parking around the outskirts of the downtown for employees in order to free up meter spaces for visitors. Permits cost $225-250 for the year, depending on the lot. For more information, see http://ci.lexington.ma.us/DPW/parkingpermits.cfm.
  • The Town of Brookline has a commercial parking permit program with a limited number of spaces for businesses in Coolidge Corner and Brookline Village commercial areas. One program allows qualified businesses to purchase a pass guaranteeing a space in an unmetered lot, with a maximum of 2 per business. The other simply gives a hang tag to businesses that allows employees to parking in metered spaces all day, but they must still pay the meter fees plus a small annual fee. The Town encourages employees to use other modes to get to work so that parking is available for customers. For more information, see http://www.town.brookline.ma.us/transportation/parking/commercialparking….
  • The Town of Amherst has Town Center permit parking area that provides permits to people living or working within the designated area. Employers and employees may obtain one vehicle permit per person, and eligible employers or employees may obtain two permits for two vehicles. Employers in the Town Center are also eligible to obtain one visitor pass for their place of employment. Fees are $35 for a single permit, $45 for two vehicles, and visitor passes are free for the first 30 days with a standard permit and $1/day for other passes up to an annual maximum of 60 days. For more information see http://www.amherstma.gov/departments/Parking/Parking_regulations.pdf.
National Examples:
  • Davis, California has a variety of parking permits targeted to employees and businesses downtown. Most allow all-day parking for employees in streets around the edges of downtown. Prices range from $10 to $75 a year depending on the permit area. Hours for permit restrictions vary, starting at either 6 or 8 AM and ending at either 6 or 10 PM. For more information see http://www.davisdowntown.com/parking/employee/.
  • The City of Portland, Oregon has an Area Parking Permit Program for areas without meters that has both a residential and a business component. It allows all-day parking for those who live or work in a designated district, and restricts others to a visitor time limit. All Business permits cost $35 for the year. For more information see http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?c=38744.