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St. Armands street parking sign
Sarasota Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019 8 months ago

Residential parking program planned on St. Armands

The city is working with St. Armands residents on a program that will allow people living in the area to exceed time limits when parking on neighborhood streets.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

After St. Armands residents raised concerns about an inability to park on neighborhood streets for longer than an hour, the city is preparing to launch a new tool for managing parking.

City Parking Manager Mark Lyons said officials are crafting plans for a residential parking permit program on St. Armands. Although the system is still being designed, Lyons said a proposal could be finalized early next year that would allow residents to exceed posted time limits in areas surrounding St. Armands Circle.

“They just need a way, since they live in the neighborhood, to utilize their streets when necessary,” Lyons said.

Kevin Bales, the president of the St. Armands Residents Association, said the neighborhood has been advocating for more than a year for the creation of a residential parking permit program. The concept gained momentum among neighbors prior to the February opening of the St. Armands Circle parking garage on North Adams Drive and the implementation of paid parking.

At the time, residents were worried visitors to the Circle would park on residential streets to avoid paying. The city added one-hour restrictions to streets surrounding the garage in hopes that would discourage parking from spilling out into the neighborhoods. But St. Armands residents said that created a new problem: Residents and their guests were getting tickets for parking in front of their homes.

“We’ve had reports of someone who moved their car out in front of their house out on the street to make way for a delivery and got a ticket,” Bales said.

The city and the St. Armands Residents Association are working to develop the details of a parking permit program. Lyons said the permits would be issued exclusively to St. Armands residents and valid whenever time restrictions are in effect. Information on the number of permits available to each household and potential fees associated with obtaining a permit are still to be determined, Lyons said.

“This is going to be the first of its kind, so we’re going to start here, learn from it and see how it develops,” Lyons said.

Although the city has not had a residential parking permit program in place before, the concept is not new. In 2016, Lyons oversaw the creation of a citywide strategy for parking management with assistance from the city’s citizen Parking Advisory Committee. The document identifies the potential need to establish residential parking permit programs in areas including neighborhoods abutting “commercial districts where there may already be a deficient number of public parking spaces.”

Residents elsewhere in the city have previously discussed the  establishing a parking permit program, but for now, Lyons said the city is focused on St. Armands. Lyons said the presence of the garage, the paid parking system and the one-hour limit created a set of circumstances that warranted the creation of a new parking program.

Still, once that district is established, Lyons did not rule out the possibility a similar system might be warranted elsewhere.

“There’s a unique demand in that area, so that’s why it’s given unique attention,” Lyons said. “That’s not to say other areas might not need it in the future.”

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