Rumors about a parking shortage in downtown Janesville have been greatly exaggerated.
Unless there’s a holiday parade or some other special event, an available space is almost always within a block or so of any downtown destination.
But the downtown has some spaces that could be used more efficiently, and the city took steps this past month to replace some all-day parking spots with two-hour spots.
Imposing time limits for parking spaces near stores and restaurants is a customer-friendly move. We’d like to think people who work or live in the downtown would be courteous enough to avoid parking in front of downtown businesses, but that’s not a reasonable expectation. Many people will stay indefinitely in a spot unless they’re given a time limit. Two hours is enough time for most people to do their shopping or dining in the downtown, ensuring others will also get easy access to the same businesses.
Of course, the city will need to commit to enforcing the new rules if people are to respect these new limits. If the two-hour limit signs end up being ignored like scarecrows in a corn field, business owners will again become frustrated with the parking situation.
Ideally, the changes will force people who had used the all-day spots to move to locations farther from businesses. Ultimately, the downtown parking arrangement should function like a parking lot at a big-box store, with employees parking farthest from store entrances and the customers getting the premium spots.
Downtown has ample parking availability, and the city has been wise not to fall into the trap of asking whether more parking is needed. The real question is whether existing spaces are being used efficiently. With more two-hour parking added, we can confidently say yes.