New rules for parking in downtown Aiken

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News 12 First at Five, February 4, 2008

AIKEN, S.C. -- Parking in downtown Aiken can be downright difficult sometimes. The city is now looking at a solution, but some business owners don't like it. And the big question is, just how will these new rules be enforced?

Officials are looking at using computer technology to record license plates in order to know how long a person is in a given spot. But, some people have other plans for parking downtown.

Kathy Bland owns 2 stores along Laurens Street in Downtown Aiken. And she loves having a busy downtown.

"When you're busy, it's gonna be a challenge to find a parking spot. But, we're lucky to be busy," says Kathy.

The city looking at ways to help you find an open parking spot in the downtown area. They've approved a plan, limiting parking to 2 hours between 9AM and 4PM Monday through Friday. Enforcement set to begin with warnings in March. But just how to enforce this is the big question.

2 hours is just too short for Kathy. And now what Aiken is really about.

"Come downtown, shop, have lunch, shop, have some more food, get some ice cream, shop some more. But, we're telling them 2 hours, scram. Not such a good thing," says Kathy.

Kathy sees the real problem everyday. Employees using the parking spots all day long.

"I think if everybody as a whole could take that first step, lets get the employees off Laurens Street. Definitely, we'd free up some parking," says Kathy.

Conley Daves thinks it would be nice to have 2 hour parking, but...

"Working here, being an employee at West Side Bowery, it's kind of hard to only park for 2 hours at a time. I think if we had a reserved area to park for employees, that would be nice," says Conley.

30 minutes for Daves to find a spot sometimes. So his suggestion to use meters to free up some spots.

But it's not meters one business owner wants, it's parking limits. But, how long is up for debate.

"To have reasonable times for people to get out, shop and get intruders off the spaces that all of us merchants need to thrive," says Det Haislip.

He tried this weekend by putting up signs in front of spots near his hardware store.

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