Parking is a perennial topic of discussion in downtown Charlottesville. The city has repeatedly grappled with the difficulty of balancing the competition for limited downtown parking among shops and restaurants and their customers, commuting workers, residents, students, tourists, government and court personnel, and others.
On September 8, 1953 City Council approved parking meters in the city-owned parking lots on High Street, Water Street, Seventh Street, and Williams Street. Meters were also approved for Jefferson Street with a two-hour limit.  These meters were purchased at a cost of $21,000 but they were not installed until after the holiday shopping season that year.  The Chamber of Commerce petitioned for the right to place nickels in the meters but Council denied this later that year. 
In subsequent decades, City Council removed the parking meters throughout Downtown, in response primarily to downtown business owners concerned about competing with free parking at surrounding suburban shopping malls.
A 2008 parking study found that downtown Charlottesville has about 6,000 parking spaces. 5,000 are off-street and 1,000 are on-street. Council opted not to create a new system of zones in February 2009. 
Downtown parking reconsidered
In 2014 business owner Mark Brown, after buying the Charlottesville Parking Center (two downtown parking garages and part of a parking lot) as well as Charlottesville's Yellow Cab company, advocated eliminating free parking on downtown streets. Mr. Brown proposed bringing all public on- and off- street parking management under a new parking authority. Mr. Brown attempted to remove downtown parking management from city control through a self-taxing "community business district," but withdrew the proposal in March 2015 after encountering opposition.
At Mr. Brown's instigation in 2014 Charlottesville's Office of Economic Development obtained from City Council funding to update a 2008 consultant's study that recommended metered parking (after a series of public hearings in 2009 and 2010 City Council had rejected the 2008 study recommendation). The resulting 2015 consultant's study, unveiled at an October 1, 2015 work session, recommended installing meters where parking is most in demand, while at the same time keeping some spaces free. City Council has asked for an implementation plan including cost estimates for a new city parking department and so-called "smart meters", and will hold public hearings on the proposal.
The following spots are managed by the private Charlottesville Parking Center
- Market Street Parking Garage - 500 spaces (450 public)
- Water Street Parking Garage - 1019 (843 public)
- Water Street Parking Lot
- City Market lot
- City repeatedly grappling with parking issues
- Web. City Council backs downtown park-and-ride - The Daily Progress: News, Rachana Dixit, February 3, 2009, retrieved October 2, 2015.
- Web. Off-mall businesses lament parking - The Daily Progress: News, Rachana Dixit, November 10, 2010, retrieved October 2, 2015.
- Web. City officials: More downtown parking not a priority - The Daily Progress: News, Rachana Dixit, January 12, 2009, retrieved October 2, 2015.
- Web. Downtown parking: On-street spaces in high demand - The Daily Progress: News, Rachana Dixit, October 30, 2008, retrieved October 2, 2015.
- Web. Albemarle Supervisors still open to moving courts from Charlottesville, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, June 4, 2014, retrieved June 19, 2014.
- Web. Charlottesville City Council meeting minutes, .pdf, Council Chambers, City of Charlottesville, September 8, 1953.
- Web. Charlottesville City Council meeting minutes, .pdf, Council Chambers, City of Charlottesville, November 16, 1953.
- Web. Charlottesville City Council meeting minutes, .pdf, Council Chambers, City of Charlottesville, December 7, 1953.
- Web. Council modifies downtown parking; keeps 2 hour spots, Fania Gordon, Charlottesville Tomorrow, retrieved June 19, 2014.
- Web. Owner of city garages proposing radically new approach for downtown ⋅ Charlottesville Tomorrow, Sean Tubbs, January 18, 2015, retrieved October 1, 2015.
- Web. Charlottesville economic development authority might pay for more parking ⋅ Charlottesville Tomorrow, Sean Tubbs, September 8, 2015, retrieved October 2, 2015.
- Web. Downtown business association withdraws tax district request ⋅ Charlottesville Tomorrow, Sean Tubbs, March 2, 2015, retrieved October 2, 2015.
- Web. Parking Study Consultant Says Metered Parking a Solution, WVIR staff, October 1, 2015, retrieved October 2, 2015.