City isn't even close to meeting ballpark parking demands, says former parking lot operator

Friday, April 18, 2014 - 11:48pm

It has been one of the most important parts of planning for El Paso's new downtown Triple-A baseball stadium.

City officials have spent ample time and resources trying to convince the public they've got parking all figured out. The El Paso Department of Transportation says they've got about 4500 parking spaces to meet the demand, but not everyone is buying it.

"The assistant city manager said there was plenty of parking and he lied," said Gilbert Guillen.

Guillen says he ran and operated parking lots in the Union Plaza Entertainment District for 4 years, and has been involved in the business for 18 years.

He argues parking downtown is already a hassle and has been that way for years.

And now, with some 240 families living in the Union Plaza area, and people working for dozens of businesses nearby, Guillen predicts there won't be any parking left for the ballpark crowds.

"What's going to happen is that everything will be taken up quickly, and by the time you guys and the regular public show up, the private lots like this are probably going to charge through the roof," he said.

And when parking is tight, drivers might be tempted to park illegally.

Guillen says that's when the towing companies make their money.

"It's going to get more busy for us and we're ready for it. We do have a lot of properties downtown that we monitor and it's just up to the business owners what they decide whether they want us to enforce it," said Efrain Sanchez, the General Manager at El Paso Towing.

As some businesses tighten parking rules, others are welcoming the traffic.

"We're not worried that the parking lot is going to be full because we're hoping that those people will be our patrons as well," said Eric Owen, a bar manager at The Garden Restaurant and Bar.

But Guillen says the fight over a parking space will take away from all the fun.

"We're a very lazy city. We don't park in front, we don't want to go. We're not going to take the Sun Metro, we're not going to park in a parking lot, we're not going to pay no $10 or over and so if there's no parking, it's going to be hard."

Parking rates in the downtown area lots are currently anywhere from $5 to $10.

Guillen says he wouldn't be surprised to see homeowners start charging people to park in their driveways.


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