A New Parking Policy is Causing Controversy in Riverside

A new parking policy that changes when drivers need to pay for a parking spot is stirring up some controversy amongst drivers and small business owners.

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A new parking policy went into effect in the city of Riverside and the goal is to help the city pay for infrastructure improvements.

But small business owners say it's actually costing them, customers.

A city council member calls the policy a mistake.

Some visitors say that the new parking changes that went into effect on July 1 in Downtown Riverside including higher rates for daily long-term parking are understandable.

"It's a trade-off," said Patricia Agbulos a Riverside resident. "I mean we need a way to pay for our city's infrastructure."

But some small business owners say the new parking changes are hurting them.

"This parking situation is just a nightmare because people don't know where to park," said Wretha Knight owner of the Upper Crust sandwich shop.

Knight says previously customers could park for free at night and on weekends. Now they have to pay for parking from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

"It's really hurting our businesses because we are open seven days a week and we are open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.

Knight's daughter, Serina Newborg is a co-owner of the Cupcakes and Curiosities shop right next door to her.

"We've definitely noticed less people frequenting our shop," said Newborg. "We have customers who complain about it all the time."

Newborg says it's also hurting employees who like everyone else must deal with high inflation and high gas prices.

"Right coming out of the pandemic people are struggling enough as it is," she said.

Ward Three Councilmember Ronaldo Fierro says the city originally approved the changes because the parking fund has been operating in the red.

"It was being subsidized by the dollars we need for vital city services," Fierro said. "So the goal was to raise the rates to a point where the parking fund would be fiscally solid."

The councilmember is also the owner of two downtown businesses including the Salted Pig Gastropub.

On Monday, he sent a tweet saying that he and other councilmembers made a mistake when they agreed to the sweeping parking rate changes.

"People don't expect the government to be perfect," Fierro said. "We are not perfect and we make mistakes but they expect us to listen especially when a decision we made is going to have a negative effect on their quality of life here in the city of Riverside."

The city councilmembers will consider making some amendments to the parking policy.

Councilmemeber Fierro says he's hopeful that they can come up with a good compromise.

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