When it comes to parking in retail districts, businesses have a loud voice with cities. They are well organized, and they are aware that parking policy and enforcement can directly affect their revenue, which in turn affects a city’s sales tax.

 But businesses face competing desires for parking. Many people assume businesses want cheap on-street parking with generous time limits in front of their stores. That encourages potential customers to park, get out, spend time browsing and eventually make a purchase. There’s a downside though, to cheap parking in front of stores: the wrong people might use it.

 These days many downtown and business districts have nearby parking garages with long time limits created so that employees at nearby offices and shops, and residents of housing in mixed-use developments can park at night. But often those residents find it cheaper and easier to use the limited on-street parking instead. They feed the meter on breaks, and even switch spaces. Next week we’ll talk about how cities can use Smart Parking to solve this challenge.