$16,934 is the amount of income the City of Santa Fe expects to lose this year by providing free parking on two holiday weekends to encourage shopping.

$4,300 is the amount of money downtown merchants paid the city to help offset the loss.

" I think it’s too bad that we have to reimburse the city…but I’m mindful that the City of Santa Fe is in dire economic

straits. I wish all the downtown businesses would support such an effort, but some of us have taken it on ourselves to pay for everybody’s free parking."—Dorothy Massey, co-owner, Collected Works Bookstore

"Parking is the biggest headache, the biggest onus, the biggest complaint that every single resident and visitor has [during the holidays]," Design Warehouse owner Larry Keller tells SFR.

That's why Keller, who is also on the city's Parking Advisory Committee, took it upon himself to raise $5,000 last year by soliciting $100 donations from 49 other downtown businesses, to help the city afford to offer free parking downtown on weekends from Black Friday through the beginning of January. In all, it cost the city approximately $59,000 last year so, this year, the initiative was pared down to the last two weekends before Christmas.

For both weekends, people can park free for up to two hours at metered spaces and the four city parking lots downtown. Maya buyer and manager Mariannah Amster says the meter-free Saturdays help because often shoppers can't browse leisurely because their meters are about to run out.

Maya was one of the businesses that contributed, somewhat begrudgingly, to the free-parking collection basket.

"I think the city should be confronted by the fact that they're making retailers pay for this," Amster says.

Robert R Bailey owner Steve Bailey says he didn't contribute and was "adamantly against" the idea, which he thought the city should do itself to support downtown merchants. He also has two paid private-lot spots for customers.

“I think this is a reasonable compromise,” city Interim Parking Director Sevastian Gurule tells SFR. “I think it provides an opportunity for local residents and visitors to come down and shop locally and contribute to our local economy. I think creating a private and public partnership with the downtown merchants is a fabulous thing.”