Mayor Ralph Becker wants to hike the price of Salt Lake City parking meters from $1.50 per hour to $2, and to extend the hours of enforcement to 10 p.m. on weekdays. Currently, parking is free after 6 p.m. Even though this policy change is not likely to win the mayor many friends, it makes sense for several reasons, though we would only extend enforcement to 8 p.m.
Opponents of the plan complain that it is all about shaking down Salt Lakers to fill city coffers, and it is true that if it were adopted in full, the city's take would rise by nearly $1 million a year. That would be a combination of higher rates, longer hours, and more parking tickets.
But there are good reasons for the policy. Restaurant owners point out that when metered parking ends at 6 p.m., night workers, some of them from restaurants, fill the spots and they never turn over. That makes it harder for diners to find street parking. Keep the meters in force longer and more patrons will be able to use them.