The city is also considering expanding paid parking to Saturdays as part of a response to revenue shortfalls.
City staff is pursuing authorization to increase paid parking rates on St. Armands Circle by up to 50 cents per hour and expand the program to Saturdays, though it’s unclear when the proposed changes will go to the City Commission for discussion.
The city has been preparing potential adjustments to the St. Armands paid parking program since the summer, working in consultation with a consultant and Circle stakeholders. Parking Manager Mark Lyons indicated the proposed adjustments are a response to St. Armands paid parking revenues falling short of projections.
As part of a bond agreement used to fund the Adams Drive parking garage, the city is required to take action to increase parking revenues if those revenues are insufficient to fund the bond payments.
A formal plan is not yet publicly finalized, but the city intends to keep the maximum hourly rate flat at $1.50 per hour, Lyons said. The plans call for an increase in the rate for more remote on-street spots from $1 per hour to $1.50 per hour, though some spots on Boulevard of the Presidents would remain free. The rates for the Fillmore Drive parking lot and Adams Drive garage would increase from 50 and 75 cents per hour to $1.
The hours of operation would run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., starting one hour later than the current 9 a.m. activation time. Drivers would get 10 minutes of free parking before payment is required. Lyons said some of the changes were designed to create greater continuity between the St. Armands and downtown paid parking programs.
In addition to those changes, which Lyons said the city is pursuing as soon as is feasible, staff is also exploring an expansion of paid parking to Saturdays after the end of the traditional peak tourist season in 2021. At an August meeting of the St. Armands Business Improvement District, Lyons said the city intended to stagger the start of Saturday paid parking based on input from the St. Armands Circle Association, a merchants group.
Although staff initially intended to present the parking changes to the commission shortly after new board members took office in November, Lyons said the city is holding off as it continues to work with St. Armands merchants to build support.
Lyons said the proposal to expand paid parking to Saturday remains a point of contention for some businesses, but he said it was important for helping the city’s parking revenues hit the necessary benchmarks.
“Saturday makes the big difference in the revenues,” Lyons said.