Downtown lot now allows overnight parking; city wants more to get on board

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Drivers are now allowed to leave their cars parked overnight at the parking lot under Interstate 35 between 6th and 8th streets on the weekends. The new rule went into effect Friday.

Before this weekend, cars parked in the lot overnight were often towed so the city could clean. But now city officials are hoping more people will be allowed to park overnight throughout other parts of downtown.

“It allows me to actually enjoy the city a little more and I can leave the car here and go have fun and pick it up whenever,” said Daniel Campa, who was visiting from San Antonio.

Campa and his friends came to Austin specifically for a night out on 6th Street. They were concerned about parking until they learned they could leave their car here overnight.

“This is a great spot to park, right next to 6th Street,” said J.R Pasch.” It’s literally right there.”

But not all lots have these same rules, and some garages still don’t allow overnight parking. That includes a garage on 7th Street near San Jacinto, which will tow vehicles parked there overnight.

Now, officials with the city’s parking and transportation department are asking many of the private lots and garages to reconsider.

“It’s automatically a better way to keep drunk drivers off the road,” said Pasch. “America already is struggling with that problem.”

But not everyone feels comfortable leaving their car overnight.

“Here in this area, it can be dangerous,” a driver pulling out of downtown parking garage said. “I’ve parked here and I’ve heard about people breaking into cars, and I’ve seen police arresting people.”

City officials say the lot under I-35 is monitored around the clock by surveillance cameras.

This isn’t the only parking change downtown recently. Earlier this month, the city put up new signs outlawing street parking on 6th Street from Red River Street to Brazos Street on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Officials say the large number of intoxicated people leaving bars and getting behind the wheel led to the change.

The city says they will dismiss a ticket if you leave your car parked on the street overnight, but you will need a receipt showing you took a cab or bus home that night.

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