SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Parking meters have returned to downtown Sarasota. In the next few days, the city will be charging for parking in some high demand areas around town.
They say they’ve learned a lot of lessons since the failed program in 2011.
These new machines are easy to use, you can pay by phone, and there will still be plenty of free spaces available.
If you take a stroll through downtown Sarasota, you may have encountered them.
Dozens of these parking meters are scattered throughout the city, and for some its not a welcome sight.
“Its annoying in a way,” said one woman.
“I think it’s a better idea just to let people come here and park for free,” said one man.
In the coming days, visitors will be charged $1.50 an hour to park in certain areas of downtown and the judicial district.
For some its a bad memory. Sarasota tried this before in 2011, but the machines were not user friendly and the program was quickly shelved.
“You’re gonna start out with a system, keep it simple and we didn’t do that the first time,” said Sarasota Parking Manager Mark Lyons.
The new machines are easy to use, you can also pay through an app. Plus if you’re just running a quick errand or grabbing a coffee, the first ten minutes are free.
The idea is to increase turnover, so more spaces are available and more foot traffic enters businesses.
“I guess it was kind of bound to happen eventually, we are growing, there’s a lot of development here,” said downtown visitor Gabriella Beachy.
The money generated from the meters will go towards road and sidewalk improvements.
As of now, officials do not plan to expand the program to other areas of the city.
As a courtesy to visitors and to support downtown merchants, a “One Time Ticket Waiver” will be offered. A parking ticket for expired time will be waived when a receipt of $25 or greater from a downtown business is presented to the Parking Operations Division within 14 days. To be eligible, the ticket must be the first for the person and vehicle in the City of Sarasota and the business receipt must be issued the same day as the parking ticket.
For ease and convenience, visitors can use the Park Mobile app and pay from a mobile device. Once registered in the ParkMobile system, simply enter the parking zone posted on street signs and select the duration of time. Reminders can be sent when your parking session nears expiration and time can be extended via the app.
ParkMobile is used in many cities throughout Florida including Tampa, St. Petersburg, West Palm Beach, Miami Beach, Delray Beach, Hollywood and Sarasota. Individuals who already have a ParkMobile account may use that same account and do not have to re-register.
Judicial Parking District: Ringling Boulevard from Washington Boulevard to School Avenue; Main Street between Washington Boulevard and School Avenue. The hours of enforcement are: Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Downtown Parking District: Main Street from Washington Boulevard to Gulf Stream Avenue; Palm Avenue from Ringling Boulevard to Cocoanut Avenue. The hours of enforcement: Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Downtown Parking District also includes the First Street Lot. The parking rate in the surface lot is $1.00 per hour Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Thousands of free on-street parking spaces will remain around downtown. Parking at the State Street Garage and Palm Avenue Garage will remain free for two hours.