Commission Votes To End Paid Parking

Sarasota City Commission has voted 3-2 to end the city's paid parking program and to make the Palm Avenue Parking Garage free.

Sarasota City Commission has voted 3-2 to end the city's and to make the Palm Avenue Parking Garage free.

"There is a parking funk," Commissioner Paul Caragiulo said. 

Mayor Suzanne Atwell and Commissioner Willie Shaw voted against the measure during Monday's afternoon session.

The meters will be gone, the electronic pay stations no more and won't ask you for money either.

"I believe the Palm Avenue Parking garage is grossly underutilized," Vice Mayor Terry Turner said. "I believe with free parking many of the merchants would be able to get their employees to park in the parking garage."

owner James Derheim told Patch that he's happy but "sorry it took them so darn long." Derheim led merchants' opposition to the meters that included a

"We've basically sacrificed three quarters of a season that should ahve been a season of recovery from the beginning," he said. "We sacrified that for an experiment that obviously has been proven to be a total failure.

"This should teach future city governments not to experiment with people's livelihoods," Derheim added.

Snyder, who once opposed ending the meter program, said though the paid parking problem resolved downtown employees parking on the street, the electronic pay stations simply don't work.

"While I say here and tried to make this thing work, it's clearly not going to," Snyder said.

Mayor Suzanne Atwell could not support the motion as she hoped Sarasota would "emerge as a wonderful downtown core, an urban setting that should fit in with this system."

"I hope there are no unintended consequences on this," Atwell also said.

Parking enforcement will return to a two-hour free parking with incidental one-hour parking spots, essentially the previous system, and will be enforced.

The city no longer has those signs and will have to order more, and could take a week or two before the signs could be installed, according to city staff.

Caragiulo said he hopes a critical mass will return to downtown later when a paid parking program will be needed again to force turnover of cars.

Palm Avenue Garage Events

One possibility to help make up for revenue for the Palm Avenue Parking Garage is by renting it out for events and not just for its parking use.

The Sarasota Young Professionals Group are requesting to rent the space for the Sarasota Film Festival for a rooftop garage party. 

Mark Lyons, parking manager for the city, brought the request to the commissioners during the commission's evening session to establish guidelines and rental fees. 

The commissioners were concerned about how noise would reverberate off of surrounding buildings, especially if a movie is shown, as well as crowd control and other issues, but agreed to let the Film Festival do the event as long as they provide a debriefing report of successes and mistakes to better guide the city for doing such an event.

The rental fees will be set up similar to existing fees, Lyons said, where non-profits and for-profits are charged different rates and use of alcohol on the premises also will increase the rate.

This story has been updated.

Jeffrey Lambrix March 05, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Ok, so now how does one pay for the 'millions of dollars' parking garage?
A Druid March 06, 2012 at 01:41 AM
About time! Thank heavens for those on the Commission that got it.
Pati beardsley March 06, 2012 at 02:10 AM
The City of Sarasota reminds me of an ostrich, with its head in the sand. If they would Just give it time, Just follow (real) cities, such as Portland, Oregon, they wouldn't have to go back and forth, wasting so much money. But Sarasota STILL can't even figure out that the United States celebrates Independence Day EVERY July 4. They still have no idea, from one year to the next, that we're going to need parking on this date, yearly. So Why would one think that Sarasota is capable of adopting a parking program for the Other 364+/- days of the year? I personally liked the meters- it meant I could ALWAYS find a spot. I really don't mind spending a dollar or two on parking, when it means that the local merchants will actually benefit from my business. But when the parking is free, I have to drive around in circles. Unless I am meeting someone at a restaurant or wherever, I sometimes will drive around until I find Orange Avenue, at which time I will drive until I turn onto my own street. Merchants lose, I lose.. it's no good. Back to Portland: all their transit options, including parking and the light rail, are on the same system: pay "once", at a booth, get travel or parking, for the alloted time. If your trip is through and you have time left on your parking stub, you give it to someone trolling for parking. Oh wait.. That would mean that Sarasota would have to pull its conservative head out of its butt.. never mind.... No Sense being nice to those not Republican. My Bad.
Sarasota J March 06, 2012 at 03:23 AM
Ahhhhh, you are not bad! You are exercising your gray & white matter between your ears that you may have learned in college. Please don't tell Rick Santorium or the Republican party if it was a Liberal College, they may close it down because it does not create jobs. I visit Portland every summer because I need my Democratic fix, a real city fix & the beautiful mountains-a hiker. It is so refreshing to read your comments! Thank You.
Randy Schweitzer March 06, 2012 at 06:27 AM
I am happy for the downtown merchants, locals, and tourists who IMHO will now patronize downtown Sarasota more. Tk u commissioners who voted to get rid of those state of the art, confusing parking meters. Randy Schweitzer
Jayn Albury March 06, 2012 at 12:16 PM
We need only look as far as Denver to the Larimer Square pedestrian mall.....no cars enter the zone, shoppers are dropped by bus for easy strolling and browsing access to the shopping district. It's SO much easier to shop when you're looking in the store windows, spot merchandise that's of interest and do NOT have to find a parking space on the crowded street. Supporting the local retailers is much easier when they're easy to reach. Otherwise, the parking lots around the big box stores will win every time.
Norman Schimmel March 06, 2012 at 12:48 PM
The garage shops could have been rented long ago, if the Commission had put it in professional hands , instead of trying to do something that they know nothing about.There are areas of the upper portion that can be marketed and promoted for events, also if put in professional hands. A little progressive and innovative thinking was required here and only ONE commissioner had that from the outset.
Norman Schimmel March 06, 2012 at 12:49 PM
For sale - many ugly green shirts, meters, electronic paybanks that won't dispense a receipt, zillions of "how to pay the meter" booklets that no one would read and the hearing aids that The City Commission finally used. Elected officials are put into office to listen and carry out the will of the people of the City Of Sarasota - not Denver, Portland or even High Point, N.C..........................................
CHARLES TANNER March 06, 2012 at 01:39 PM
stupid morons. never have i seen a bunch of dumber people than the commission. lets see a brain in the bunch and put the meters on ebay. maybe we can get a few grand of our money back be selling them to others......haha then we can end the hiring freeze.....haha are these people really wasting the air we own by BREATHING???
Firedog March 06, 2012 at 02:12 PM
As a snowbird, I did take my money elsewhere. Now I will be back downtown to support the shops and restaurants with the FREE parking
CHARLES TANNER March 06, 2012 at 02:25 PM
wow, great idea
kate March 06, 2012 at 02:49 PM
actually, the Palm Ave Garage was 'pre-paid', with tax dollars escrowed over the years for the express purpose of building a public parking facility in downtown. it was also always expected to offer free parking, as the structure was fully funded in advance, and there was no need to 'pay for it' again. It was only in the grand opening phase of the garage that it suddenly became a pay-to-use structure. glad to see it is back to the original concept - give them a free, and dry place to park, and they will come. City should have left the meters on the streets now that the garage is free. what a waste of time and effort!
SRQDude March 06, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Well, I think that the commissioners who voted FOR the meters in the first place should now be required to go around and scrape all those little number stickers off the curbs as penance! ;-)
N Gardner March 07, 2012 at 01:18 AM
So how much did this project of the parking meters actually cost Sarasota County anyway?
Norman Schimmel March 07, 2012 at 03:26 AM
This was a CITY Commission project - not the County.
jasmine March 07, 2012 at 05:14 PM
As a downtown employee I'm very happy to see the paid parking go away! But regardless of it being a good or bad idea, I say shame on you to all the cheapskates that refused to pay a couple of bucks to park when the sole purpose of said parking is to spend your money shopping or dining, I just don't get it. Again, so glad it's gone!
Buckosrq March 07, 2012 at 06:58 PM
I've lived in Sarasota since 1995. Before the meters were installed I would bring my friends to Main St. for shopping and eating in the many fine restaurants. Since the meters were installed I never went downtown except to the Opera House for the Sarasota Ballet performance a few weeks ago......Had one hell of a time trying to see the instructions on how to use them but the sun was washing out the screen. I tried using my credit card and thought that it was charged. After a few days, I checked my credit card and no charge showed up.....I was lucky I didn't get a ticket. Now that the meters are covered I shall finally return to enjoy shopping and eating around Main Street.


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