Shoppers and employees no longer have to bring cash or change to pay for certain parking spots in downtown Idaho Falls.

The Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation, which manages downtown parking, earlier this month debuted a new parking app called Park Smarter that the city is using.

Parking fees for the lot cost $1 an hour or $5 for 12 hours.

The change will only affect four lots with paid parking. Street parking remains free for two hours.

Catherine Smith, executive director of the development corporation, said she hopes the app will make it easier for people enjoying downtown to deal with parking. The parking app can tell you when your parking expires, and offers you a chance to renew it.

“Once you’ve established an account in the app it’s basically like ordering food through DoorDash or Grubhub,” she said. “It’s super simple.”

Physical parking meters at the lots accept credit cards for payment, Smith said. The development corporation took over downtown parking enforcement in October 2019, the Post Register previously reported.

Greg Crockett, managing partner of Hopkins Roden law firm, has worked downtown for more than 40 years.

He said when he began at the firm, downtown had all parking meters. He sees enforcement of paid parking as necessary for a city to adapt to population growth.

“One of these days we’re gonna get to that point where we’re gonna need to have a parking structure. But you can’t finance and support a parking structure if all the other surface parking is free,” Crockett said. “And professionals have told us that over and over again: You cannot compete with free.”

Reporter Kyle Pfannenstiel can be reached at 208-542-6754. Follow him on Twitter: @pfannyyy. He is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

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