A great bargain on parking is about to end for Arizona State University students.
Eighth Street, as it leads away from the eastern border of the Tempe campus, is currently being used as a free lot, much to the dismay of businesses and residents. But that is about to end, as city officials have listened to the complaints about traffic and trash.
Soon, parking on this mile-long stretch of Eighth between Rural Road and McClintock Drive will be limited to 90 minutes 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Currently, there are no restrictions on the road's north side and the south curb is strictly no parking.
Drivers can no longer find a spot early in the day and leave their vehicles as long as they want.
"There have been cars left here for days," said Randy Schultz, general manager of Four Peaks Brewing Co. at 1340 E. Eighth St. "There was a bus left there for three weeks."
Added city planner Decima Sever: "Part of the nice thing about the solution is that it doesn't stop parking; it just stops all-day parking."
Failure to heed the signs, which will be installed in about three weeks, will result in a $29 citation.
How Eighth Street came to be such a popular, if unorthodox, parking lot stems from its length and the city's attempt to get people out of their cars.
The road's north curb is almost completely unbroken, save for a no-parking zone about 250 yards east of Rural and the Dorsey Lane intersection, plus a few fire hydrants and driveways. Dozens of vehicles can comfortably park here.
And if a student finds a spot closer to McClintock than Rural, just a few minutes' wait will bring along a convenient and air-conditioned ride to campus. The Mercury route of Tempe's Orbit neighborhood bus circulator runs along Eighth Street toward ASU.
Parking on Eighth Street has been a problem for at least three years, Sever said, but the restrictions only came about after an Oct. 30 meeting of business owners and residents. She noted "100 percent consensus" was easily reached that this problem needed a solution, and all sides embraced the daytime 90-minute limit.
However, residents are worried about unintended consequences.
Chuck Buss, chairman of the University Heights neighborhood association, anticipates drivers will cope with the restrictions by finding spots on nearby residential streets.
And after the Metro light-rail park-and-ride opens at Dorsey Lane and Apache Boulevard in late December, Buss wonders if students will flock to that lot and force commuters into his neighborhood in search of parking.
"We could be getting it from both sides," Buss said.
To solve that, the city has begun bringing parking permits to University Heights. This would give every neighborhood resident a parking pass, and every household one visitor's pass.