Meter mad

Meter mad

Dear Irving: Ace sorely wanted to get the word out about the sweet free parking spots around the Downtown Mall, even though his editors vowed to defenestrate him if he did. But, ever the fearless two-fisted reporter, Ace didn’t let this threat stop him from bringing you the truth. (The fact that Ace works in a windowless basement in C-VILLE’s Downtown office has nothing to do with his defiance. Really.)
    Yes, many people balk at having to pay the $1.00-1.50 hourly fee at Charlottesville Parking Center’s three facilities on Water Street and Market Street (except for those brave souls tooling around on motorcycles and scooters, of course—they get their garage parking gratis). Fortunately, a number of area businesses (including C-VILLE, natch) have worked out a deal with the company to offer two hours’ parking validation for their customers. Just don’t forget that ticket stub!
    But what if you’re terrible at keeping track of that ticket, or plan on staying longer than two hours? Lucky for you, a number of streets around the Mall offer free and legal curbside parking during daylight hours. Garrett Street, which runs parallel to the Mall south of the railroad tracks, is probably the most popular area. For those unafraid of actually having to walk more than a minute, High Street, Maple Street and Monticello Avenue also offer a number of spots for Downtown-bound drivers. Readers will probably agree that the best place to get a parking spot is on South Street, immediately following the turn from West Main. Not coincidentally, this much-coveted “rock star” parking is also the least likely to be available, as it is spitting distance (literally, if you’re expectoratingly gifted) from the Mall. As Ace can attest, securing this primo spot often requires a duel to the death with competing drivers.
    Another solution to your parking woes could be the city’s free Downtown Trolley. Ace’s more physically inclined readers can also ride their bikes to the Mall. While bicycles themselves are prohibited in the pedestrian space, a number of nearby bike racks are offered to help you burn less cash (and more calories) on your trek. And of course, you can always use your own two legs. Ace would point out that all of these options are healthier than driving, have the added benefit of reducing pollution, cutting down congestion…and leaving more spots for Ace.

Yes, the Downtown area is rife with parking regulations and ticket-happy traffic cops. But the secret free spots are out there—if you know where to look.

You can ask Ace yourself. Intrepid investigative reporter Ace Atkins has been chasing readers’ leads for 18 years. If you have a question for Ace, e-mail it to

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