Saint Paul’s New Meter Hours

Saint Paul has extended the hours of enforcement on its downtown parking meters starting this week, and already I have seen results which made me gleeful. The City Council had an event at the Ordway Theater. Being the horrible urbanist that I am, I drove myself, and no one else, to the event and began searching for street parking. My years of training kicked in: despite the event being on a Tuesday night, despite me getting there later in the event, I instinctively wanted to park my car almost into Lowertown.

Map of Rice Park, a black line along the sidewalk creates a path walked along where all these spots were.

My parking space and walking path, 600 feet from the front door.

I kept feeling this pull to park at every open spot, but I kept my head down and overpowered these emotions, knowing metered parking would allow me to park fairly close to my destination. Lo and behold, I found what I thought was a killer spot, just on the other side of the Saint Paul Public Library’s George Latimer branch. When I parked, I felt pleased with myself, even without major events (Winterskate was in rented use, not open skate), the feat of parking close to my destination in downtown is somewhat unfamiliar. Having walked across town to go to a Science Museum show on an uneventful Sunday afternoon in the past, this felt miraculous. Or so I thought. Even though my walk from my car to the front doors of the Ordway was but 1.5 blocks, I saw several open spaces.

Rice park trees, lit with long lines of Christmas lights shower the background, while a while sedan parks in a metered spot on the street. The road is empty in the foreground, and a parking space is available in the far left of the picture, just before an intersection.

There are four open spaces on this block, the photo is taken where three consecutive open spaces were at the time.

Another open parking space, about 150' and across the street from the main entrance of the Ordway

Just around the corner… the Ordway is just across the street

Two cars idle in front of the Ordway, across the street from an open parking stall.

Just across the street? A fluke maybe?

A new parking space is shown, directly across from the Ordway. The two vehicles previously mentioned continue to idle as they wait for passengers.

Okay, two spaces directly across from my destination. Maybe the parking meters work!

Obviously, on a Tuesday evening, with no Wild game, no concert, and no open skate, maybe there wasn’t that big a need for parking. But in the Saint Paul I was raised in, parking across the street from your destination with the meters off was called a movie shot, something so rare you felt like you were a movie star filming when you got the perfect space. And there were three movie shots that night, with four more better parking spots along the route I walked to get from what I thought was a pretty good find. Maybe these meters work!

Joseph Totten

About Joseph Totten

Joe is a graduate of Civil Engineering-Transportation and Urban Studies at the University of Minnesota, and has a masters degree from Portland State University. Born and raised in Saint Paul, Joe has worked with nonprofits and public agencies in MSP and Portland.