After more than a year of going back and forth on whether to approve paid parking downtown, the city is set to begin installing parking meters.
Two types of meters will begin arriving in Sarasota this week — traditional, single-space meters and multi-space pay stations.
The installation process will begin the second week of April, but it could take time for them to be completely installed, because each meter location has to be examined for utility lines.
At its April 4 meeting, city commissioners will give final approval of the paid-parking plan, including where the meters will be placed.
The approximate boundaries of the proposed metered area are from Orange Avenue to the east, Gulfstream Avenue to the west, Second Street to the north and McAnsh Square to the south (click here to download map).
There are 459 metered spaces in that area.
Most streets will be served by pay stations, but in areas with just a few spaces, such as in front of the Palm Avenue parking garage, single-space meters will be placed.
In pay-station areas, a space number will be painted on the curb, and drivers will go to the pay station and input that number, as well as their money.
Payment can be made by coins and credit/debit cards. Dollar bills will not be accepted.
“Bills are the biggest cause of jams (in meters),” said Police Capt. Jeff Karr, who oversees parking operations.
Karr expects the majority of payments will be made by credit and debit cards.
The suggested cost per hour is $1, but people can also pay 25 cents for a 15-minute increments.
Hours of enforcement are still being discussed, but some parking advocates suggest revisiting those hours from time to time to make sure they encompass the times of day when parking is in short supply.
The shorter timeframe was suggested to allow people to stop into a store, such as a coffee shop, for just a few minutes and not have to pay for a full hour’s worth of parking.
One of the unique aspects of the meters is that someone can pay for their space at any pay station in the city.
So, if a driver parks on Gulfstream Avenue, but is dining on Lemon Avenue, he can locate a pay station on Lemon and enter his space number to extend his parking time.
The system is wireless, so enforcement officers will have handheld devices that allow them to see when any pay-station space in the city is in violation.
The city budgeted $510,000 for the purchase and installation of the parking meters.
For the first year of implementation, the city expects to run a deficit, but, eventually, the paid-parking program is expected to generate between $400,000 and $500,000 per year in revenue.
The city is discussing the possibility of providing validation cards to store owners to push the use of parking garages.
As an act of customer appreciation, retailers can give their customers a card that provides $1 off of the cost of parking in a garage.
BY THE NUMBERS
Within the metered parking area there are:
459 — metered spaces
648 — two-hour spaces (in the parking garage and on street)
1,116 — no-time-limit spaces
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