City officials are emphasizing the need for more modern parking management in light of what they say is a growing interest in downtown living. 

This comes ahead of an information meeting scheduled on May 2 where members of the city's community development department will take and respond to questions from the public on proposed revisions to downtown parking policy.

"With the long-term city plans calling for 'housing everywhere' and a rising interest in downtown living, it is critical we understand our parking capacity and use it in the most efficient manner," a statement from Mayor Steve Allender reads. "Our old thinking and practices are not compatible with a changing and expanding downtown."

An ordinance making its way through city hall authorizes the installation of 620 parking meters that the city purchased in February along Main and St. Joseph streets between Fifth and Ninth streets, and along Sixth, Seventh and Ninth streets. Officials have said they could be deployed as early as June.

Another ordinance would establish an on-street parking permit program, a wait list for which is slated to open in May.

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A city policy proposal set the fee for parking permits at $30 a month. Permits would only be good for certain zones which, according to the policy, would be located on Main Street and St. Joseph streets from East Boulevard to 5th Street, on Kansas City Street from 1st Street to West Boulevard, on Quincy Street from 5th Street to West Boulevard as well as on parts of Mount Rushmore Road and 6th, 7th and Apolda Streets. Those streets would also function as free two-hour parking.

Members of city council have spoken in favor of increasing the hourly limit on free parking in permit zones from two to three. They have been joined by some downtown business owners in their criticism of the policy's proposed fine of $25 for parking violators. The current fine is $10.

City Spokesperson Darrell Shoemaker said Tuesday that the new parking measures were developed partly to address Rapid City's master plan goals of making downtown more livable. City consultants and real estate developers, he said, have relayed that young adults are more interested in living downtown or close to it than previous generations.

Shoemaker said members of city council are expected to attend the meeting scheduled May 2. Allender will also be in attendance.

The meeting will be held May 2 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the city and school administration building.

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