Parking at Austin’s Central Library will cost you up to $30

Austin Central Library in downtown Austin. (KXAN Photo)
Austin Central Library in downtown Austin. (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Visiting the new Austin Central Library, a question you’ll likely hear floated around is, “So what about parking?”

Come Monday, the grace period of free parking will come to a close at the downtown library.

Here’s how the city council-approved rates will break down:

$0.00 0 up to 30 minutes
$3.00 31 minutes up to 1 hour
$5.00 Over 1 hour up to 2 hours
$7.00 Over 2 hours up to 7 hours
$9.00 Over 7 hours up to 10 hours
$15.00 Over 10 hours up to 12 hours
$30.00 over 12 hours

When the new library opened, blogger for affordabilityaustin.com Bill Oakey was curious about the parking rates. Looking at the budget, it became clear parking in bigger cities, you’ll get more bang for your buck.

“The trend seems to be to make the parking inexpensive and accessible for patrons of the library. And I think it’s kind of a social thing. It’s a good thing because people of all ages and all backgrounds need to use the library,” Oakey said.

He’s calling on city council members to lower the rates they approved when you consider parking at the central libraries in larger Texas cities is cheaper.

For a quick comparison, two hours at the Central Library will cost you $5. At the Houston Central Library, it’s $4. In Dallas, it’s $1.50. And in San Antonio, its parking is free for the same amount of time. The most you’ll pay in Dallas or San Antonio is $5 a day. In Austin, it’s $30.

“Let’s just be able to use it without having to pay through the nose for parking,” Oakey said.

But others, like Paige Oliverio, who plan to have regular business meetings at the new Central Library, feel the cost is reasonable.

“As a professional coming here for 3-4 hours, I actually think it’s a pretty good rate,” Oliverio said. “When I compare it to other parking garages around town it actually seems a lot less.”

For the first week, parking has been free at the library parking garage.

Kanya Lyons, with the Austin Public Library, said, “In downtown Austin, as you can see when it’s free it fills up very quickly.”

Lyons says the reality is, they need to encourage turnover. “There’s so many people here, so I mean it’s just a necessity at this point to charge a little bit for parking,” Lyons said. “We also really want to encourage people to use alternative transportation whenever possible. And I think that’s really the direction the city is moving in as a whole.”

Earlier this year,  the Downtown Austin Alliance released a study on parking, to figure out how to make things better. One of the ideas at the top of the list was for performance-based parking. That means higher prices during peak hours the closer you get to the downtown core.

“It would be a wonderful thing for the city to open up that library and make it less expensive to park because it’s such a fabulous place,” Oakey said. “I was just overwhelmed by it. It completely exceeded my expectations.”

Several council members say they’re now taking a closer look at the fees they approved to potentially re-evaluate the rates.

The Central Library parking garage will be open 24/7. You must use a credit or debit card to pay. Out of 200 spots, 60 are reserved for library staff.

Originally, the new Central Library was approved on a $90 million bond. It ended up costing $125 million when all was said and done. There’s already a $20 million dollar wishlist for the 2018 bond to go toward other library branches.

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