ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - It can be tough to find a parking spot in downtown Albuquerque, especially around all the government buildings.
The city thinks some people who are allowed to park for an hour or two for free because they drive what are considered eco-friendly cars are hogging up spots all day, every day.
Those people could be ruining the Green Vehicle Parking Program for everyone because the city is now considering doing away with it altogether.
There are anywhere from 1,100-1,300 cars a year in Albuquerque registered for a prized green sticker. It is supposed to give parking privileges to drivers of eco-friendly cars.
Even cars you might not expect can make the cut, like some big SUVs.
Once they're registered, drivers can park free in a metered spot for the maximum time allowed by that meter.
But that is not what's happening.
"The number one complaint we get is that a vehicle will stay in one spot for eight hours or move two spots down and use eight hours worth of parking in a business day," said Michael Riordan with the Municipal Development Department.
That is what one tipster told KRQE about four cars parked outside the County Assessor's Office.
We checked for ourselves and found three of them parked out there Tuesday—two of them belonging to county workers.
The city estimates misuse of the green permits is costing Albuquerque about a quarter of a million dollars a year.
"That is a very big impact to us and that is why as we are rewriting the parking ordinance," Riordan said. "That is one of the things we're looking at: Is that truly a benefit to have that as part of our parking program or is it something to be reconsidered and be removed."
He said the city is also exploring new technology to better enforce the time limits.
"I would say within the next six months we would have something in front of City Council that we can have for an open discussion," Riordan said.
As a city council member, Martin Heinrich sponsored the Green Vehicle Parking Program in 2005, hoping it would encourage people to buy hybrid cars.
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