New signage around City Springs will explain the change to free parking in surface spaces. (Special)

Parking in the on-street spaces around City Springs is now free after a change approved by the Sandy Springs City Council at its Feb. 5 meeting.

Parking in surface spaces, including the 17 immediately outside the restaurants and stores in City Springs, the city’s new civic and art complex, previously cost $1 for each half hour and was capped at two hours. The fee system was aimed at keeping the spots open for retail customers and encouraging turnover, City Manager John McDonough said at the meeting.

But the city has received “mixed” feedback from patrons who found the pay system confusing and wanted more time in restaurants, McDonough said.

Parking will now be free in those surface spaces, but will remain capped at two hours with strict enforcement and fines of $25 for the first three offenses. Cars will be towed at the fourth offense.

The fees for the surface spaces were expected to bring in about $90,000 annually, McDonough said.

For longer trips, the 750-space underground deck remains free for the first two hours and with fees for additional time, except for during events, which is priced at $5 after being reduced earlier from $10.

Mayor Rusty Paul said changes like this are expected while the city works out the details in operating City Springs.

“We’re finding that most of our assumptions were accurate, but not all of them,” Paul said at the meeting. 

Paul recently appeared on the “Reporter Extra” podcast, where he discussed City Springs parking and other topics. 

“Parking has been a challenge for us. People in Sandy Springs aren’t used to paying for parking,” he said in the interview.

The city worked on the compromise with Selig Enterprises, the private partner on City Springs’ retail side. Jo Ann Chitty, Selig’s chief operating officer, said at the meeting this plan should turnover cars while still protecting retailers by allowing customers close access.

“Thank you to John McDonough and his staff for being flexible with us to see how things worked and how people reacted to it,” Chitty said.