Beginning on Monday, July 12, some people who go to downtown Greensboro to shop or dine may be able to park in any of the five currently operating city-owned parking decks for two hours free.

The first hour in the parking decks is already free, so this “Deck Pass” program will double the amount of time patrons of participating retail businesses and restaurants can park without being charged.

The Deck Pass program is scheduled to last until the end of the year, with the first round of Deck Pass vouchers distributed to businesses that qualify and register at on July 12.

According to the press release from the City of Greensboro, the purpose of the Deck Pass program is “To help encourage continued economic recovery.”

Along with being free for the first hour the city parking decks are also free from 6 to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends.  On-street parking is free after 6 p.m. weekdays and all day on weekends and holidays.

Only retail businesses and restaurants that participate in the city’s existing parking validation stamp program are eligible to receive the Deck Pass vouchers and the vouchers are not good for on-street metered parking.

The program is a far cry from the city’s attitude about free parking during the height of the pandemic. Beginning in March 2020, on-street parking downtown was free but the City of Greensboro didn’t announce it. According to the parking enforcement division parking wasn’t free, but the city wasn’t writing tickets for expired meters.  Since most people plug the meters because they don’t want to receive a parking ticket and not because they feel the need to donate spare change to the City of Greensboro, parking was in effect free.

After not announcing that the city wasn’t writing parking tickets for expired meters, the city did, however, announce that it would start writing tickets for expired meters on Oct. 19, 2020.

Of course, some downtown on-street parking is always free, like on South Elm Street, and the city has never produced a rational for providing some businesses downtown with free parking in front of their establishments while for other downtown businesses the metered parking is strictly enforced.