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Thursday, April 18, 2024
<p>(Nicole Safker / Alligator Staff) The Gainesville City Commission voted to impose a $75 fee on drivers who leave the Southwest Downtown Parking Garage, pictured, without paying.</p>

(Nicole Safker / Alligator Staff) The Gainesville City Commission voted to impose a $75 fee on drivers who leave the Southwest Downtown Parking Garage, pictured, without paying.

The City Commission voted Monday night to punish drivers who exit city parking garages without paying their parking fee.

Rule breakers will now be punished with a $75 fine - the amount it costs to fix the exit barricade after a car drives through it.

The same $75 fine will be charged to drivers who leave without paying but do not damage the barricade.

The ordinance passed 6-0 with Commissioner Ed Braddy absent.

According to the ordinance, the fine will be charged to the registered owner of the car, regardless of who was driving.

Car owners can get out of the fine if they prove the car or license plate was stolen or that they had already been stopped and ticketed by police.

The ordinance applies only to city-owned parking garages, which in Gainesville means the Southwest Downtown Parking Garage, between Southwest Second and Third streets.

Signs posted in the garage state that the area is under surveillance by video cameras.

Sontoya Collins and Andrea James parked at the garage Friday night.

"We have to pay when we come so they should have to pay, too," James said.

Collins said she thought anyone who would drive through the barricade would probably be drunk.

Use of the garage has been growing as construction of the Hampton Inn decreases the number of on-street parking spots downtown, City Manager Russ Blackburn said at the meeting.

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Parking has been blocked off along one side of the 100 blocks of both Southeast First Street and Second Avenue to make room for construction.

While there is still plenty of room in the garage during the day, Blackburn said, it almost sells out on Thursday and Friday nights.

Parking in the garage costs $1 an hour from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and a flat $5 at night. The maximum charge is $6.

(Nicole Safker / Alligator Staff) The Gainesville City Commission voted to impose a $75 fee on drivers who leave the Southwest Downtown Parking Garage, pictured, without paying.

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