Today marks the first day since the 1980s that residents attending City Council meetings can park for free. 

Following the Fort Worth Report’s reporting on the cost of parking for residents attending City Council meetings, the city proposed providing a parking voucher for residents who sign up to speak at city council meetings. 

Later, the plan was amended to include anyone attending daytime City Council meetings. Parking is already free at nighttime City Council meetings. 

In one year, the city collected $141,000 from parking fees and tickets. Dan Haase, who often represents his Central Meadowbrook neighborhood at City Hall, said he typically spends about $6 on City Hall parking every month. 

Free parking will certainly save attendees money, Haase said. The change may not increase participation, though, he added. 

“I do hope that the free parking will motivate more participation, but I fear the daytime meetings are difficult for a lot of people, even with free parking,” Haase said. 

Attendees have to park in the Houston Street Garage across from the Fort Worth Convention Center, 1200 Houston St. Council-goers will need to bring the ticket from the entrance of the parking garage to the City Manager’s Office.

People will receive a voucher allowing them to exit the garage for free. The city manager’s office is located on the third floor of City Hall, 200 Texas St. The vouchers will be available from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We want to be sure that residents are able to attend the meetings without worrying about parking costs,” Michelle Gutt, a spokesman for the city, said.

The city previously cited wanting to encourage turnover at metered parking around City Hall, maximizing potential parking.

“Metered parking helps to manage the limited parking resource and to minimize all-day parking in the spaces closest to City Hall and downtown businesses,” Peter Elliott, parking manager for the city’s transportation and public works department, previously said in a statement. “This provides an impetus to citizen participation by quick and easy access to City Hall.”

Parking rates for the Houston Street Garage range from $3 for 20 minutes to $22 for 12-24 hours. The vouchers are only available for the Houston Street Garage. 

The vouchers will not extend to other meetings such as the zoning commission, which also take place during the day. 

Several other parking options are available to people attending council meetings, including a citizen lot at City Hall, metered street parking and at Commerce Street Garage.

What are the best places to park near City Hall other than parking meters?

Citizen Lot at City Hall

Parking in the lot is $1.50 an hour with a maximum $7 per day. The lot is free after 6 p.m. The lot is located directly behind City Hall.

Commerce Street Garage

0-20 minutes, $3 
21-40 minutes, $6 
41-60 minutes, $9 
61-80 minutes, $12 
81-100 minutes, $15 
11 to 12 hours, $18 
12- 24 hours, $22 

Parking around City Hall was free until 1982 when the city amended ordinance 8629 to update its metered parking policies to be more in-line with commercial parking elsewhere in the central business district. 

The majority of city staff members also have to pay for parking at City Hall. Only staff members who are assistant directors and above do not have to pay for parking. 

As city staff prepare to make the move to Fort Worth’s new City Hall in 2024, parking options have not been finalized

In the meantime, the city may struggle to inform residents about the free parking, Haase said. 

“It will definitely save a few bucks, if people know about it, but I doubt it has a real impact on participation,” Haase said. 

Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Rachel BehrndtGovernment Accountability Reporter

Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report in collaboration with KERA. She is a recent graduate of the University of Missouri where she majored in Journalism and Political...