ST. LOUIS – There’s a new plan to crack down on downtown parking lots in St. Louis.

Alderman Rasheen Aldridge, 14th Ward, has just introduced Board Bill 44, which calls for sweeping changes in security and upkeep for surface parking lots downtown.

“The Board of Aldermen finds that unsecured “surface parking lots” are locations where occurrences of crime are more likely, including crimes against parking patrons, vandalism of vehicles, theft of vehicles or property inside vehicles, and other threats to the security of persons and property. Furthermore, thefts from vehicles constitute a significant source of illegal firearms, a serious problem that contributes to violent crime,” the bill states.

The bill would require downtown lots to have perimeter fencing at least 4’ high (no chain link fences allowed unless previously constructed), plus either an automated gate or on-site attendant, security lighting, and new signage that includes an address and local contact phone number for the operator of the lot.

“(The lots are) not being monitored,” Aldridge said. “Vehicles are being vandalized. Property is being damaged. Nobody is really attending to these lots to make sure there are security measures in place.”

Aldridge and the 8th Alderwoman Cara Spencer, represented parts of downtown St. Louis.

“So much of what’s going on downtown, the speeding, crazy driving…these things are originating in our parking lots,” Spencer said. “Really, they are a very, very, poor welcome to the City of St. Louis. It’s time we crack down on them.”

The bill also calls for all landscaping to be free of weeds, trash, and debris, and paving and striping to be in good condition with surfaces free of potholes, large cracks, and standing water.

The upgrades would be required for a business permit to be issued with a grace period for lot operators to bring their lots into compliance. Lots would also be subject to yearly inspection.

Aldridge said criminals tend to steer clear of well-kept, secured lots.

“They have to really think about it … how they’re going to commit that crime and hopefully not commit it, because there’s too many layers of security to try to do that,” he said.

“We have got to crack down on surface parking lots. It’s an incredibly vital piece of improving public safety in our downtown,” Spencer said.

A parking lot business permit could be revoked for repeated police incidents under the new bill. Aldridge said he is meeting with lot operators for their input.

He said he hopes to steer the bill through an aldermanic committee with final passage coming by fall.