Gas prices are up. Food prices are soaring. The cost of heating your home is skyrocketing. Inflation is choking the economy. Businesses are struggling. So what does the City of New Bedford do to assist? Increase the cost to park at a downtown parking meter.

This, just over a year after the Mitchell Administration closed stores, restaurants, and bars before allowing them to re-open with ridiculous restrictions and limitations drafted by the COVID police.

Nothing says "Merry Christmas" quite like making it more expensive for potential customers to park in the downtown retail district during the holiday shopping season.

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WBSM News recently reported that the cost of parking at some key metered spaces in the downtown area will increase. The New Bedford Traffic Commission (read: Mitchell Administration) has adopted a plan similar to Charlie Baker's color-coded COVID zones to determine how much your meter will cost you.

WBSM reports parking in the “green meter” core zone from Sixth Street to Front Street between Elm and Union Streets are set to go up from 75 cents to $1.25 per hour.

Just outside that area, “blue” spots will increase from 75 cents to $1 per hour, while the “yellow” meter spots surrounding the downtown area will not change.

At the same time, rates at the city’s two downtown parking garages will decrease from $3 per hour to $2 per hour, with the maximum daily rate decreasing from $18 to $12. The idea is to discourage people from parking on the street and get them into the garages.

What's the deal with the bus terminal garage? That wasn't mentioned in the new traffic commission rules. Who parks there?

How many administrations will it take to understand that people do not want to park in the Elm Street Garage and walk uphill into the downtown area? The Zeiterion Theatre Parking Garage is at least as far from downtown as the Elm Street Garage. Neither is an attractive option, especially for women walking alone.

The Elm Street Garage reeks of urine and one man connected to the downtown business community tells me he recently had to call the police to report a man who "took a dump" in front of him in the elevator of the "Z" garage.

New Bedford had a small but efficient parking lot downtown but converted the thing into a park for homeless drug and alcohol addicts to hang in. Nice going.

I feel bad for anyone trying to make a go of it in downtown New Bedford. Might as well just hang signs giving shoppers directions to the Dartmouth Mall.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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