St. Joe changing all day parking on Lake Street to just 2-hours

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. -- The city of Saint Joseph says it wants to ensure parking is available to tourists, so the city is putting a 2 hour limit on parking from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

The city wants to make sure people coming to spend their money in downtown St. Joe have an easy time finding a parking spot near the shops and restaurants.

But not every business caters to tourists and some business owners are upset about the change.

The change will affect parking along the bluff, overlooking Lake Michigan, on Lake Street.

There will be a two hour limit on parking from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

"Even though it might be an inconvenience to the employees of downtown, it's okay, because we want our guests to be at our front door,” said Larry Schuler, owner of Schul’s Grill and Bar.

Some are not pleased about the change.

"Professional people in the downtown area, and their clients, cannot come up and find a parking place in this area,” said Carl Meyer, President of Michiana Land Services.

The parking change addresses a growing problem.

"What we see has become more and more prevalent over the years is, the use of those spaces by people who want to go to the beach,” said Mark Clapp, Director of Public Safety Saint Joseph Police Department.

Beachgoers are parking in town and walking to the beach to avoid paying a parking fee, and their cars are clogging up downtown parking.

"When they are taking up those spaces, the people who actually want to shop downtown can't find a space, so they may have to park way out or they may just leave,” said Clapp.

Meyer doesn't think the new time limits are the answer.

"If you come up to eat uptown and to shop, two hours doesn't do it. There's a lot of people who are going to get tickets, they're going to be frustrated, and they won't come back,” said Meyer.

Some downtown merchants already have a plan if that becomes an issue.

"If they're enjoying a dessert in the extra time, I'm going to take care of their ticket because that's how valuable they are to our business,” said Schuler.

According to Clapp, in past years, the police department brought in anywhere from $50,000 to $60,000 from parking tickets during the summer season.

While he says, that may sound like a lot of money, it doesn't pay for the parking enforcement officer's salary and benefits.

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