Kansas City trying to solve parking problems in growing downtown area

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As Kansas City's downtown continues to grow, city hall is looking for solutions to help its growing pain — parking or the lack thereof. 

Just ask Rolonda Saulsberry, who works at the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance in the Crossroads. 

"Downtown, at least 15 years ago, was very desolate. Now, it has grown with restaurants and apartments and its really brought life to it," she told 41 Action News. "[Parking] does fill up quick." 

City leaders have been studying this issue for months, trying to figure out ways to better enforce parking to ensure more turnover. 

"It's a good problem we have," said the city's public works department spokesperson Beth Breitenstein. "To have a vibrant downtown with high demand for access, what we are looking to do is really support that." 

In November, city council approved a contract to outsource enforcement and meter operations to LAZ. The council approved $325,000 for this plan.  

But like with downtown, this plan has since changed. 

Now, the city is only going to outsource for meter operations. The Kansas City Police Department will be in charge of enforcement, as stated in an ordinance passed by city council last week. 

"After some conversations with the police department, there were some efficiencies and safety improvements that could be realized with their enforcement downtown," said Breitenstein. 

According to the contract, the public works department will give KCPD $145,000 to hire 10 additional parking control officers. Those additional hires will be responsible for increased enforcement in the Streetcar TDD. They will write tickets for cars whose meters expired or for cars parked in a spot for too long. 

Breitenstein said since the contract with LAZ has been changed, the city is paying the company less money. The new contract is around $100,000, said Breitenstein. 

Other parking changes the city is exploring include meters that are tech-friendly and creating a policy for valet parking. 

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