Report: Parking Changes Can Improve Citizen Health


As the City of Omaha considered changes to parking rates in downtown, the Douglas County Health Department studied parking from a different perspective – health. As part of a Health Impact Assessment (HIA), staff reviewed scientific literature, conducting interviews with business owners and developers and studied the health consequences of circling block by block to look for a parking space. The results are outlined in a Downtown Omaha Parking HIA summary report.

It turns out that circling for a parking spot can increase stress, contribute to air pollution and physical inactivity (because people walk less if they park right outside their destination). According to the HIA report, these health impacts can be minimized by the recently announced parking management changes designed to move traffic, free up on-street parking spaces and encourage individuals to park in a nearby garage or lot (for a more affordable price).

The map below shows an aerial view of downtown parking, the amount of garage and surface parking.

Downtown Omaha Parking

From a health perspective, if more people are walking around downtown it contributes to a more vibrant area, improves air quality and reduces the stress of trying to find a parking space.


City Launches Park Omaha Partners Program

New meter rates and hours of operation in downtown Omaha create an opportunity to examine all available public parking spaces. As part of an effort to develop a comprehensive parking management system, the City of Omaha’s Parking Division launched the Park Omaha Partners program – a shared parking option.

Business and private garage or lot owners can “rent” their unused parking spaces to the public and be listed on a clearinghouse of available parking options on the Park Omaha website.


Interested businesses or lot owners can “apply” online to become partners. Park Omaha staff will review the information. Once approved, it is entered into the City’s GIS system and it appears as a “pin” on the interactive map on the Park Omaha website.

Omaha owns and operates about half of the downtown parking spaces. The Park Omaha Partners program helps provide additional parking spaces to the public that may have otherwise been unavailable. Signage, including bright blue “P”s will be installed as a visual trail for people as they travel downtown and look for available parking places. Park Omaha Partner facilities will have signage to indicate hours, price and security measures.

The Park Omaha Partners program officially begins Oct. 13 to coincide with the implementation of new parking meter rates and hours of operation.

Rate Changes

New Meter Rates, Hours of Operation

As part of a more balanced parking approach, meter rates in downtown Omaha will slightly increase and hours of operation will become Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays and holidays are still FREE.


Currently, downtown parking meters require payment weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

“Our goal is to increase turnover outside businesses and free up spaces so that customers and visitors to the downtown area can more easily find parking spaces,” said Ken Smith, parking division manager.

“To do that, we studied parking patterns and average length of stay, reviewed results from several parking studies, and developed a comprehensive parking management program which lowered the price in city garages and will increase meter rates and lengthen meter hours of operation,” said Smith. “This approach creates a range of parking opportunities and pricing, depending on your needs.”

The average rate increase is 50 cents per hour in the Old Market and 25 cents per hour in all other downtown areas. The rates of some 10-hour meters on the edges of downtown will remain the same.

Instead of worrying about carrying extra change, downtown visitors, employees and residents with Apple or Android smartphones can download the FREE Park Omaha application to pay for parking – at any meter.
The new rates will be:

  • 2-hour meters are currently $1/hour and will increase to $1.25/hour
  • 3-hour meters are currently $.75/hour (Old Market area) and will increase to $1.25/hour
  • 4-hour meters are currently $.50/hour and will increase to $.75/hour
  • Some 10-hour meters which are currently $.25/hour and will increase to $.50/hour

“We will provide safe, accessible and affordable parking options downtown,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.  “Our downtown will continue to grow and develop and we are responding to the needs of downtown employees, businesses and their customers and residents.”

The new parking meter rates and hours of operation will go into effect Oct. 13 (after the Columbus Day holiday, which is a free meter day).