Many downtown businesses are temporarily closed leaving an abundance of parking, but it doesn’t mean that parking is now free.
Social media lit up this past week with questions over why the city was still enforcing parking in the downtown district. Missoula Mayor John Engen addressed the issue in a recent media briefing.
“As it turns out, the machine needs to keep running, so paying the parking meters just supports our parking organization and our ability to build parking and maintain those facilities,” the mayor said.
Revenues collected from parking fees support a wide range of services, including the construction and maintenance of structured parking. The fees also go to pay employees with the Missoula Parking Commission.
The Missoula Parking Commission also has addressed the issue on its Facebook page. Like other city departments, the parking commission remains open despite the coronavirus, and it’s required to provide continuity of service.
“Our enforcement team is focusing their efforts on writing citations for safety violations, accessible space violations, and local zone violations,” the office stated. “We aren’t trying to punish or discourage those who park and visit downtown. We are simply asking that folks park safely while they are here.”
Engen offered a similar statement when asked about ticketing.
“We’re not ticketing folks for meter violations,” he said. “You’re likely getting a whoops ticket. But we’re still ticketing for safety violations. The parking commission is happy to provide some relief here.”
The parking commission said it was taking extra steps to sanitize parking meters and gate equipment. It’s also encouraging downtown visitors to pay for metered parking use the Passport app.