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Sarasota Wednesday, May 12, 2010 10 years ago

Group conditionally opposes parking meters

by: Robin Roy City Editor

When city commissioners directed staff members to ask three downtown groups to decide between supporting the city’s parking operations with either parking meters or ad valorem taxes, they thought they would be getting back simple answers.

What they’re actually getting is anything but simple.

Facing a parking budget shortfall that threatens to sap the $400,000 parking-reserve fund in less than 18 months, the commissioners asked staff to gauge the group’s preference in how to deal with the problem.

City staff approached the Downtown Improvement District, Downtown Sarasota Alliance and the Chamber of Commerce’s Downtown Sarasota Council for their opinions.

The DID voted 3-2 in favor of imposing ad valorem taxes to buoy parking operations. But also issued a number of conditions in case commissioners decided to install parking meters. Those conditions included beginning meter enforcement in January at the earliest and posting enforcement hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The DSA is currently finalizing its position, but it is not choosing either option presented. Its position is that the decision is a budgetary one, which it is not qualified to make. DSA board members will ask the city to develop a parking policy first. They oppose the installation of parking meters without such a policy.

The DSC will meet Thursday to discuss the issue for the first time.

Susan Dodd, assistant to the city manager, said parking meters would bring in an estimated $600,000 per year.

The meters would be placed within a quarter-mile radius of the Palm Avenue parking garage, Whole Foods parking garage and the county garage at Ringling Boulevard and East Avenue.

The city fears if parking meters are not placed near the garages, then the garages will be underutilized, because the more desirable on-street parking spaces will be free, and the less-desirable garage spaces will have a fee.

Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].

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