A new pilot program aimed at increasing turnover in downtown parking started Saturday morning, and lead enforcement officer Chris Kersbergen remains hopeful it will bring more customers to spend time in the area.

Parking will remain free on Saturdays and Sundays, but, anyone who leaves their car parked at a meter for more than two hours will be issued a $20 citation.

This month, people who leave their car at a parking meter downtown for more than two hours will only get a warning slip. Kersbergen said the goal is to educate people about the changes first.

“We’re actually going to let them know what the pilot program is, what’s going on and we’re also going to show them how to avoid it in the future,” he said.

Starting August 1, people who go over the two-hour limit will be issued a $20 parking ticket. The appeals process will stay the same.

“They can do it online,” Kersbergen said. “Or, they can choose to come in by the office and fill it out in person.”

Kersbergen said he hopes increasing turnover in downtown parking will have a positive impact on businesses, “so that more people can come downtown, spend their money or do what they like to do with it.” He says the emphasis of the pilot program isn’t about issuing citations, but rather keeping spots open and ensuring people follow the rules.

Kersbergen said to ensure people are honoring the two-hour time limit, parking officers will mark down the valve stem position, meter number and license plate numbers of the car into their system. After two hours, people will have to move at least a block or to another spot, such as a 10-hour parking meter or garage.

“They can’t just roll forward or backward,” he said.

Jess Faltersack, who visited downtown Anchorage this Saturday, said she can understand the frustrations and benefits of the new parking enforcement.

“I do see both sides,” she said. “But, I think maybe it might be better a little bit longer, maybe a three-hour window. But, I can see why the two-hour window would be effective.”

Faltersack said it wouldn’t be a problem for her if she was here for breakfast or running a few errands downtown.

“But, if I’m down here to come to the market, I don’t want to feel rushed,” she said.

Another person KTVA spoke with who declined to be named said, “Nobody wants to move around all day.”

The pilot program will last until the end of September. That’s when EasyPark’s Saturday Parking Stakeholder Group will meet and review the data from the three months and decide what to do next.

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