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Public On Parking Meters: Find A Different Kind

If the city is going to change something about its paid parking program, it ought to be the type of electronic meters it uses, merchants and residents said at a Thursday parking forum at Selby Library.

If the city is going to change something about its paid parking program, it ought to be the type of electronic meters it uses, merchants and residents said at a Thursday parking forum at .

Here are some common complaints about the meters:

• Hard to read LCD screen in bright light

• Menu times out too quickly after trying to enter space number

• Doesn't print a receipt

• No telephone number to call to report problems

• Doesn't accept American Express

Originally Parking Management Director Mark Lyons had said at the meeting that swapping manufacturers wasn't on the table, but residents and merchants pressed the issue to at least have it discussed at the meeting.

Lyons did say stickers are coming to the meters for a number to call for help or report errors.

"We have a good parking system," Lyons said. "We still need to work on things that are going to make a difference."

James Derheim, owner of and , disagreed with the notion of the parking system being well navigated.

"Mr. Lyons made a statement that this program was moving in the right direction. Well so was the Titanic," Derheim said. "We are taking on water as a downtown."

Chris Gallagher, who helped the city study meters, said research has shown no correlation between successful downtowns and having meters and not having meters. The point of the meters were to have "demand management" to reduce congestion on Main Street from people trying to keep circling for parking and instead find ways to create more available spaces as well as funnel people to other areas to park.

But the one thing the group didn't do was focus on, he said, was the type of meter the city should buy.

"I think there's a whole group of poeple where their only issue is with that piece of equipment," he said.

Lyons stressed that staff was charged with finding improvements to the parking system and not seeking how to eliminate it because that was the direction given by the city commissioners. Commissioners Paul Caragiulo and Terry Turner, vice mayor, supported bagging the meters and attended the forum to listen. The other commissioners were not present.

The Herald-Tribune examined the St. Armands Circle part of the argument — how come they don't have meters. The director of St. Armands Circle Association told the paper there's a good reason:

"But St. Armands merchants say they already pay the city for use of a popular lot on the island, and they promise there will be an uproar if the city installs meters there.

"We're comparing apples and oranges," said Diana Corrigan, director of the St. Armands Circle Association. ...

If the city installs the meters that have been heavily criticized downtown on St. Armands, Corrigan promises "there will be a lot of angry St. Armands merchants and business owners and probably residents, too."

Lyons said another meeting will be planned to address the ideas that came out of Thursday's meeting, plus the amount of comments prevented gaining feedback on a list of city discussion points.

Norman Schimmel February 24, 2012 at 11:55 AM
This disaster keeps getting worse. Just when you think it has hit rock bottom, more foolishness and waste of taxpayer money occurs. The City leadership should take their ear muffs off or they will not lead in the future.
virginia hoffman February 24, 2012 at 12:08 PM
I have supported this program from its implementation but finally realize this is ill conceived and the wrong equipment was selected. Now Paid Parking is so tainted & with no problem solving the possibility of recovering diminishes with each day that passes. Time to stop banging our heads against the wall on this thing.
James Derheim February 24, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Staying the course will sink many businesses downtown. This failed program was and is being shoved down our throats by people who have steady, secure income streams. Sound familiar? D.C. Politics right here in small city SRQ
Charles Schelle (Editor) February 24, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Has anyone had positive experience with electronic meters in other cities? Which ones have worked the best? The ones in Baltimore, Md., have a bright yellow max button and print out a receipt/ticket you place in your window. It accepts dollar bills, coins and credit and screen is flat and easy to use. No need to put a space number in.
Ron Hermann February 24, 2012 at 08:34 PM
I see the problem being, unlike the State of Florida who benefits from increased sales through additional sales tax, The city could care less if you are busy or not. They do not monetarily benefit from a successful store cranking out sales. So, in a way, it doesn't matter to them so they are going after the additional revenue through parking fees. Very shortsighted. If the businesses fail BECAUSE of meters, traffic goes down and parking revenues go down. Kind of like shooting yourself in the foot. Since the merchants don't want metered parking(I don't blame them) ...and since the City is basically backing them into a corner to squeeze money from them..why not add an additional percentage to the tax the B.I.D. collects as a parking "tax" and be done with it. Or put it as a referendum to increase the sales tax an additional 1/2 cent for parking in the city limits. Remove the meters(I am sure the labor could be found for free)...Pay the city their shakedown fee once a year..Or offer to validate (reimburse) customers who make a purchase in the store...
william sterling February 24, 2012 at 10:27 PM
all of the above comments are valid. new meter sustemis needed,if any is needed.
Luke February 24, 2012 at 11:12 PM
It really shouldn't be that hard. Just look at what New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago have installed several thousands of over several years and presto, pick one. The ones in Sarasota? Even the company that sells them doesn't install them in their own privatization deals like Atlanta. What does that tell you?
Fenimore Fosdick lll February 25, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Vote the Commissioners out who refused to remove the meters the next time they come up for reelection.
G Show February 25, 2012 at 05:10 PM
I really hate to do this to the downtown businesses, but truth is truth; I live about a half a mile south of downtown Sarasota and I don't park ANYWHERE that I have to use one of those meters. TWO bucks just to run in a store and pick something up... NOT ME.
chris February 27, 2012 at 06:34 AM
It their way of rasing money and it is some what ........... You find some thing <a href="http://virginunite.screwbusinessasusual.com/videochannels/?v=IMG_0261/"> different</a> because it not really the best of ideas
Mark Lyons November 07, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Mark Lyons is a chode.
Mark Lyons November 07, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Mark Lyons is ________. Fill in the blanks.

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