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Bill Foster outlines new parking policies for downtown St. Pete

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

Mayor Bill Foster announced on Friday a set of proposed parking changes designed to be more customer-friendly and make downtown parking easier while being fiscally responsible during extremely tight city budget conditions. Changes are planned to take place on June 1, 2010.

In a memo to Council, Mayor Foster outlined the following changes:

(1) Reduce the number of hours for metered parking from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. for all meters. On the waterfront, metered hours will be reduced by three hours every evening; from 11 p.m. to 8 p.m.

(2) Around BayWalk, extend 90-minute time limit parking to two hours, and stop enforcement at 10 p.m. instead of midnight;

(3) All other 90-minute time limit and one hour limit parking throughout downtown will be extended to two hours;

(4) Allow customers with a qualifying downtown business receipt who have never received an expired meter citation a one-time amnesty during a three-month trial period (June to August);

(5) Offer a new pay by cell phone option whereby if a motorist does not have change for the meter, with a cell phone and a credit card, customers can pay meters and also receive a call or text message when their time is about to expire;

(6) Provide a more cost effective program for businesses to provide monthly parking for their employees or employees to purchase their own parking less expensively by offering a discounted rooftop parking rate of $20 per month at the South Core Garage (less than $1 per day)

(7) Provide businesses with a lower cost to provide parking to their customers by reducing the cost of $100 validation booklets for the BayWalk Garage to $75;

(8) Increase the cost of downtown meters from 50 cents an hour to 75 cents an hour (20 minutes for 25 cents), which is still less than maximum rates in Tampa ($1.50 per hour), Clearwater Beach ($2 per hour), St. Pete Beach ($1.25 per hour) and John’s Pass ($1 per hour);

(9) Install pay stations that accept credit cards at The Pier’s Pelican lot and the South Core Parking Garage and

(10) Reduce night and weekend rates for parking at South Core during non-event times.

The proposed time frame for implementation is as follows: Items 1, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 10 will be implemented on June 1, 2010 or as soon as crews can make all the required adjustments (within several days after June 1).  The change from 90 minute time limited parking to two hours (Items 2 and 3) will be implemented between June 1 and June 30, 2010, while items 5 and 9 will be implemented by the end of August, 2010.

Mayor Foster indicated that he and/or staff have talked to most of the business interests along the waterfront where meter hours have run the longest and which were therefore contemplated for the largest reduction as part of this initiative. The enforcement hour changes described above represent a compromise reduction that reflects the average opinion of the surveyed businesses.  In addition, these changes are aimed to reduce some of the most common comments and complaints that the city receives from citizens and visitors about downtown parking.

“I feel these changes will be embraced by our downtown businesses and citizens who hopefully will find parking more convenient, considerably more equitable and that it will be easier to avoid tickets,” said Foster.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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