Downtown Houston Parking Gets Easier

New parking signs are popping up in downtown Houston starting this week. The area is already peppered with thousands of signs — but the new signs are intended to make parking simpler and easier to find.

There are more than 3,000 parking signs downtown, with 120 different types of parking instructions. Houston Mayor Annise Parker calls it unnecessarily confusing.

“Parking is the first and last impression that thousands of visitors to downtown Houston have every day. Parking is the first and last impression and I would rather that impression not be one of profound confusion or extreme irritation.”

Parker says she sincerely wants to reduce the number of parking tickets issued downtown. Simplifying the signage is just one step toward that goal. The city is also creating uniform parking rules so standards will be the same on every block.

“Commercial zones we’re standardizing to be 24/7, not sometimes you can park in a commercial zone, sometimes you can’t. We are putting a consistent time limit on all of the downtown parking meters, consistent metering time of three hours. Clear color coding, red curbs for no parking, blue if parking is available.”

Old parking signs are removed near Houston's Minute Maid Park.
Old parking signs are removed near Houston’s Minute Maid Park. 

City leaders took a walking tour of downtown and inventoried every parking sign and zone to decide what needed to stay and what needed to go.

“We’ve gone on a block by block basis and said do we have the right number of spaces, have we inappropriately blocked off some of these for loading zones or for other reasons?”

One of the biggest changes will be the number of mobility lanes. Those are the lanes where it’s okay to park during the middle of the day, but not during morning or evening rush hour. The city plans to eliminate many of those lanes.

The new parking system should be complete by next summer. City council approved $1.3 million to pay for the changes.


Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson


Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Laurie has covered a wide variety of topics for HPM, including the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and numerous elections. She is a frequent contributor to NPR and has been...

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