Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue is aware of the reputation of a parking problem the town has faced.

“We’ve had this perception – and it’s somewhat reality based – that there’s no parking downtown, and it’s inconvenient, so let’s just go someplace else,” said Blue.

That is precisely why, with the help of the Downtown Partnership and several local businesses, the town is looking to “change the narrative” on parking in downtown Chapel Hill with their Lots to Love campaign.

The campaign started late last month with a kickoff party that featured live music, free food from local restaurants and raffles to win free parking.

Lots to Love means new parking meters, parking ambassadors and more opportunities for free parking downtown which, as Downtown Partnership executive director Meg McGurk put it, will help to make parking in Chapel Hill “more forgettable.”

“We want people to come downtown, remember their meal, remember the smile from their downtown ambassador, remember the gear that they bought and completely forget about parking,” said McGurk. “That is how we change the narrative.”

Other changes to downtown parking include the park mobile app, which allows users to pay for parking online rather than feeding the meter.

Blue said that the town also wants to remain focused on safety.

“We certainly want to provide safe, clean, well-lit and well-used public facilities downtown,” said Blue. “That makes everybody safer. The more folks that are downtown enjoying round-the-clock nightlife and restaurants and shopping, the safer we all are, because that puts more eyes on the street.”

More information on the campaign can be found here.