Walker wrote >>
Taking some of those flat lots and making a few of them free instead of $5/day will not radically change anything.
I kind of like the solution that my current town (Evanston, IL) has come up with. There are basically three public garages in downtown. Parking is free for the first hour, $2 for the second hour, and it keeps going up after that to a max of $13 per day.
This allows customers to make short retail trips without paying anything. A longer trip, maybe to a restaurant, only adds $2 to your bill. Work parking (6-12 hours) is $8, which is just high enough to make taking one of our two train lines or many bus services attractive.
If you want to park closer to a destination than the public garage allows, meters are available on most streets for $0.75 per hour, which is probably underpriced on most blocks, for a maximum of two hours.
Anyway, my point is that maybe first hour free parking in the public garages (and maybe lots) scattered about downtown would help smaller retailers like ZHC without providing incentive to drive for longer trips or compromising efforts to improve public transit.