It's time for downtown Gainesville merchants to watch where they park.
The Gainesville Police Department issued more than 50 parking tickets Tuesday for cars that violated the two-hour parking limit on streets around the square.
"We receive parking complaints weekly and have asked merchants in person, by letter and by email to leave the two-hour parking for customers," Police Chief Brian Kelly said. "We have also asked citizens who work downtown to use the Hall County parking deck or the Georgia Mountains Center deck."
In September, Main Street Gainesville and Georgia Mountains Center officials developed a free parking pass for downtown business owners, managers and employees to use when there are paid parking events at the Georgia Mountains Center. City workers also installed new downtown signs to direct drivers to free parking in both decks.
"The ordinance is still standing, and we continue to receive complaints, so we decided to start an enforcement campaign to address the violations," Kelly said. "We will continue to periodically check, and we want everyone to be aware of the time limit."
The complaints started increasing a few months ago, Kelly noted.
"It's been fairly consistent once the weather started warming up and people were coming into the downtown area," he said. "We need to share the available spaces so customers can shop in our stores and eat in our restaurants."
The city's ordinance includes 17 areas of the downtown commercial district. There is a two-hour time limit on sections of Bradford, Green, Maple, Main, Spring, Vine and Washington streets, as well as a portion of Brenau Avenue.
"Although enforcement of parking is a police issue, Main Street Gainesville has done a great deal to promote downtown, and it's important for people to find quick and easy parking," said Angela Thompson, Main Street manager.
Council members have also expressed concerns recently about the parking.
"It's important for people to have a great impression of downtown, and we want to be customer-friendly," Thompson said. "If merchants park in front of their stores, that's not a good image."