Miss Gulfport (WLOX) – You can’t miss the signage. Parking in downtown Gulfport is limited to two hours Monday through Friday.
The ordinance has been in place for years, but now the city is stepping up enforcement.
That made life and business difficult for Hannah O’Keefe, owner of the 13th Street Salon and Barber.
“Sixty to 80 percent of our business is done by clients of color,” she said. “All color customer service takes over two hours.”
O’Keefe has been in oral debate with the city for months, but the competition has gotten more heated.
“Some of our customers have recently received tickets for parking here for more than two hours,” O’Keefe said. “We can’t continue to have conflicts with people outside, and we can’t continue to have conflicts with widows.”
She said she had done what she could to maintain clients, but that had become unsustainable.
“I’m trying to deduct $25 from their airfare so as not to inconvenience them so that they won’t come back,” she added.
From the city’s perspective, the law isn’t perfect, but it’s fair.
“With rotation, there’s a time frame that allows more people to get more access to downtown businesses, especially those that require nearby parking,” Mayor Billy Hewes said. It’s a balancing act and we’re doing our best.
“We try to make our city centre as adaptive as possible and take a holistic approach to this,” Hewes added. “So if there’s a business inconvenience, we try to adjust or modify it. But sometimes when we In doing so, we also create challenges or problems for other businesses with this treatment. So, it’s a balancing act and we’re doing what we can. But it’s not a new rule that we’ve made. It’s already there. for a while, and it seems to mostly work.”
For other businesses, such as Downtown Bistro, the ordinance is required.
“There are several bars and restaurants in the area that need regulated turnover and steady traffic throughout the day,” said owner Brian Radner.
That’s a good question to ask as the city centre increasingly becomes a destination, he added.
“I mean, the fact that we’re sitting here talking about parking shows that people are coming to the city center. Without people coming to the city center, there’s no parking problem. So, I hope it continues to grow, and we have to build car parks,” he said.
Gulfport continues to work on alternative ideas used by other cities, especially those that are growing, including metering processes, Hewes said.
As for O’Keefe, she said she will decide whether to move before her lease expires in June.
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