With Meters Installed, the Parking Advisory Committee Sees its Job Coming to An End

Business

BY JOHN WITTE SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING MONDAY DEC 2, 2019

Basically, I think our job is over. The meters are in, they’re working well. People are getting used to them, and using them well.”

Sarasota resident Eileen Hampshire is a member of Sarasota’s Parking Advisory Committee, a group of locals who have dedicated a portion of their time to advising the City Commission on issues related to parking and congestion. As opposed to many other advisory boards that consult the City Commission, which are often staffed by real estate developers and entrepreneurial luminaries from around the area, the PAC features more small business owners and activists than one would ordinarily expect. “That’s by design,” says Mark Lyons. The PAC is a platform for the city’s parking manager, Mark Lyons, to get feedback from the community and, in his words, “take a thirty thousand foot perspective on parking issues in the city.”

Of course, the first PAC was formed in 2013, just a year after the city’s last attempt to install paid parking meters in busy downtown areas was rescinded because of a lack of popular support. While the PAC consults on many issues, its main goal was the installation of a paid parking system in St. Armands and downtown Sarasota. That goal is not only complete, but is, according to Mark Lyons, on the way to being self-sustaining and cost neutral. The parking garage on St. Armands (financed through a bond, rather than with public funds) has not yet reached that goal, however—Lyons believes this to have been caused by bad press, red tide, and a rough hurricane season. In addition, the City Commission has requested a report from the PAC that elucidates the different parking policies on St. Armands and in the downtown parking spots.

These complications will be worked out in due time, according to Lyons, who is planning his report to the city and a study of the St. Armands parking structure. He remains confident enough in the new parking meters to propose that the PAC begin the process of sundowning in the near future. Lyons will soon cut the meetings to every other month, and eventually, the PAC will stop meeting at all.

Photo by Wyatt Kostygan

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