KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A controversial new parking policy in the River Market area made its debut Thursday.
Four previously-free lots next to City Market are now charging $1 an hour, and the price for not paying up is a $33 ticket.
Dale Castle was one of the first to take home a citation on Thursday for a pay-by-plate lot.
"I had no idea. No idea at all that after 25 years that was suddenly a pay lot," he said.
Premier Parking Services is enforcing the new rules, which were put in place to discourage people from parking in the lots all day and riding the streetcar to work downtown to avoid parking fees.
Under the new policy, City Market employees get permits for $10 a month.
"It was nice because I was actually able to find a parking spot and not have to circle around and wait and get in to do my job on time," Kelly Brewster, the manager of Minsky's Pizza, said.
But employees at River Market businesses not located in the actual City Market complex do not get the discount. They have to pay $55 a month for permits.
"We have been in this market area....we were across the street for almost 40 years, and now they're considering us not part of the City Market," Cascone's employee Mary Harmon lamented.
One River Market business, The Planters Seed & Spice Company, has its own free lot across the street from the store. Still, the manager thinks there will be growing pains with the new policy.
"I think it'll be confusing for a while, but it'll work out," Geoff Myer said.
Dale Castle isn't so sure of that.
"That's it for me. I'm not coming back. I'll pay this thing and that'll be it," he said of the citation.
41 Action News reached out to City Market management for this story, but by the time of publication, there was no response. We also asked Premier Parking for the number of tickets issued, but we have not heard back.
The pay-by-plate system is in effect Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Parking in the lots is still free on weekends.
There's also a slight change for parking inside the City Market square, which will now have 2-hour free parking instead of 3-hour parking.