Three St. Petersburg mayoral candidates oppose parking meter changes
ST. PETERSBURG - Parking meter enforcement has become the topic du jour in the mayoral race.
Candidates Paul Congemi, Scott Wagman and Richard Eldridge all released statements in opposition to a plan to standardize parking enforcement hours across downtown from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., a move that would significantly lengthen enforcement hours on and near Central Avenue.
"The move to create consistency among all the parking meters downtown is a good one. But making all the meters active until 10 p.m. 7 days a week is a bad idea. Really bad," Wagman said in a statement today, adding enforcement should end at 7 p.m.
Congemi, meanwhile, said the city should remove all parking meters downtown to promote business, a proposal akin to Tampa's free parking in Ybor City.
Eldridge said parking rates should be set by the businesses in the area.
Meanwhile, Mayor Rick Baker's staff issued a clarification today.
"The mayor's instructions to staff were clear from the time that they brought this idea forward, that he does not intend to support this change unless there is a clear consensus that there is public support for the change," Rick Mussett, the city's development administrator, wrote in an e-mail to the Times.
Parking officials had said they planned to implement the changes by the end of the month. On Wednesday, they said they were surprised by the backlash and planned to meet with community leaders to explain the plan.
Cristina Silva, Times staff writer