Last month, a story in the Star said more Tucsonans want to go downtown but parking is still an issue. The article quoted a poll, stating that there is a “perception that there’s a lack of convenient, accessible public parking.” I agree: Perception is the issue.

While the city of Tucson’s improvement of city-center parking is an ongoing effort, we have made great strides and are proud of the more than 13,000 affordable and convenient spaces in downtown. Parking activity is at an all-time high, reflecting an urban environment that is growing, exciting and walkable.

The city, through its Park Tucson division, manages five public parking garages providing 3,000 covered spaces. Four of these facilities are open 24/7, serving the entertainment districts and connecting to the Sun Link streetcar: Centro Garage, 345 E. Congress St.; Depot Plaza Garage, 45 N. Fifth Ave.; Pennington Street Garage, 110 E. Pennington St. (entrance on Scott Ave.); City-State Garage, 498 W. Congress St.; and Library Garage, 45 W. Alameda St. (open until 9 p.m. weeknights).

The city manages 600 spaces in surface lots that mainly park employees by day, but are open to the public nights and weekends. Another 1,000 spaces surround the Tucson Convention Center, with two garages nearby.

The city also provides more than 1,000 on-street metered spaces in the downtown core and nearly 600 more spaces in the Fourth Avenue Business District, Warehouse Arts District and University/Main Gate Square districts. Metered parking is free after 5 p.m. and on the weekends.

I encourage anyone coming downtown to go to to view an interactive parking map that shows garages and lots, entrance locations, rates and hours. If you follow Park Tucson on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll be alerted to fun events along the streetcar line.

Park in one of the garages, lots or hundreds of on-street spaces along the Sun Link streetcar route, then hop on the streetcar to connect to five fun, eclectic urban districts. Merchants at Main Gate Square will validate your parking after 5 p.m. at two nearby garages.

What we’re most excited about is how we have put technology to work to increase parking convenience.

Most city-managed meters are “smart” solar-powered meters that accept payments by credit, debit or Park Smart card, or the GoTucson Parking mobile app. Park Tucson offers Park Smart cards loaded with $25 in parking value for just $20.

The free GoTucson Parking app can be downloaded from your smartphone’s app store. You can receive text message alerts and reminders before your parking session expires, and then extend your paid time remotely, up to the posted time limit.

You can pay for metered parking without the app at Or, if you don’t have a smartphone, pay by calling 441-3752.

More advances are coming to the app, including the ability to pay for lot and garage parking and monthly or annual permits.

If you’ve had a problem with parking downtown or want some parking advice, please contact Park Tucson at 791-5071 or We want to make it easy for more Tucsonans to come downtown and to the other vibrant districts in the city center.

Donovan Durband is the director of the city of Tucson’s Park Tucson division.