Lexington to Return to Free Parking on Weekends and After 7 PM on Weekdays

Lexington, Ky.–The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council has given initial approval to an agreement with the Lexington & Fayette County Parking Authority (LexPark) to return to free parking at downtown meters on weekends and after 7 PM on weekdays, as announced by Mayor Linda Gorton. This agreement was reached to assist downtown businesses, many of which had expressed concern over recent parking rate increases and expanded enforcement hours by LexPark.

The move was part of a compromise agreement that also includes an increase in the amount the city pays to park 620 employee vehicles, including police cruisers, in downtown garages operated by LexPark. Currently, the city pays 50% of the market rate for employee parking. Under the new plan, the city will pay the government rate, which amounts to an increase of around $200,000 annually. LexPark required additional revenue to make safety improvements, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The new agreement comes after LexPark expanded enforcement hours from 9 AM to 9 PM Monday through Saturday and increased rates from January 3. However, businesses and downtown residents pushed back against the expanded enforcement hours, which will soon be eliminated on Saturdays and reduced to 7 PM on weekdays due to the additional payment from the city.

Mayor Gorton said, “We have worked hard over many years to make Lexington’s restaurant scene one of the nation’s best, and to keep our downtown lively. As we emerge from the pandemic, we don’t want to harm our restaurants or downtown nightlife by limiting parking options.”

James Frazier, chair of the LexPark board, said, “I am so pleased that the Lexington Parking Authority and the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government have come together to find common ground on resolving this issue.” LexPark is expected to vote on the new plan next week.

Vice Mayor Dan Wu and Third District Councilmember Hannah LeGris “also supported the work to find a compromise,” according to a city press release.

The Lexington & Fayette County Parking Authority provides, maintains, and operates public meters and parking garages, including the Helix Garage on Main Street, the Courthouse Garage on Barr Street, the Victorian Square Garage on Short Street, and the Transit Center on Vine Street.

Photo: A LexPark meter. (LFUCG)