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Santa Rosa Plaza delays parking charge

  • Melody Young, a parking ambassador with AmeriPark, passes out cards with information about the new parking fees at Santa Rosa Plaza in Santa Rosa, California on Thursday, August 2, 2012. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

Plans to start charging Santa Rosa Plaza shoppers to park at the mall have been delayed at least a week, officials said Friday.

Parking "ambassadors" hired by the mall have been handing out cards to shoppers informing them that the program begins Monday.

But delays related to mall renovations likely mean the program won't go live for at least another week and maybe longer, said Laura Kozup, the area mall manager.

"We want to make sure everything is working properly," she said Friday.

Parking has been free at the mall for 30 years. Mall officials say the changes are necessary to discourage employees from other downtown businesses from parking there and taking up prime spaces meant for shoppers.

A study conducted by mall officials found that about 400 of the Plaza's 3,000 parking space were being taken by employees of other downtown businesses before the mall opened at 9 a.m.

The mall also determined that shoppers spend an average of 68 minutes at the mall, lending credence to their argument that the average shopper won't be affected by the change since the first 90 minutes of parking will be free under the new program.

Any portion of the next 90 minutes will cost $2. Four hours will cost $4, up to six hours will cost $8, and more than six hours will cost $9. Overnight parking will not be permitted.

Workers on Friday were continuing to install a system of gates controlling access to the garages.

Under the program, shoppers retrieve a ticket when they arrive at the mall, and then pre-pay using that ticket at a kiosk before they depart, if their visit is longer than 90 minutes.

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