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Parking experiment fizzles

A city of Sandy incentive plan to gain more parking in the Pioneer lot has poor results

In the past eight months, upwards of three dozen people have taken home some nice gifts — items donated by Sandy businesses.

The city’s gift program was designed as an incentive mainly for employees of downtown businesses to park their cars in the Pioneer parking lot, allowing more street parking for customers.

Each week, a city employee would go to the lot and attach a gift envelope to the windshield of an unsuspecting car, whose owner would be surprised with the gift later that day.

Even though local businesses have continued to donate gifts and people have been enjoying the gifts, the program hasn’t achieved its goal, said Associate Planner Kelly O’Neill, who administers the program along with Economic Development Director Dave Snider.

“This was a good experiment,” O’Neill said, “but I think the conclusion is that not much has changed. People seem to be pretty hesitant to walk an extra block or two.”

Gifts ranged from chocolate to ski rental to massage to a package of car washes, with values from $25 to $60.

The lot has 57 parking spaces and is just steps south of Pioneer Boulevard.

Car counts over the past months have ranged from as high as 16 to as low as three cars, averaging seven vehicles when the gift envelope was placed on the selected car.

O’Neill said he has about eight more gifts to place, which would carry the program into mid-summer. But if the gift incentive program is to continue, city officials will have to see a dramatic increase in the use of the off-street parking lot.

“We haven’t seen a change,” he said, “so there’s very little incentive for us to keep the program going.”

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