TAMPA — The city is moving forward with a plan to issue parking permits in SoHo, the popular area surrounding the S Howard Avenue commercial strip.
The proposal, which still must be approved by the City Council, was introduced at a neighborhood meeting Monday night, where a majority of residents approved the plan. The permits would affect a 30-block area and are intended to appease those who say bar patrons flood their streets with cars, litter and noise at night.
Similar plans have been successful in Ybor City and Channelside, said Jim Corbett, the city's parking manager. The SoHo plan would target the nighttime bar and restaurant crowd. "No one's concerned about parking before 6 p.m.," he said.
The plan would create 454 parking spaces for an estimated 600 residents in the SoHo area. In some areas, on-street parking would be prohibited; others will allow resident-only parking. Residents will get one guest parking pass and can buy additional guest passes for $3 per day.
A few two-hour parking spots would be available for visitors.
Homeowners supported the idea, saying the influx of SoHo bars has decreased their quality of life. Some renters, however, said the restrictions would limit their party guests.
Tommy Ortiz, who co-owns restaurants, and Joe Redner, a businessman and Democratic County Commission candidate, attended the meeting at Kate Jackson Community Center in Hyde Park.
Ortiz, whose bars and restaurants have been the target of residents' complaints, supported the plan. His company spent $2-million on a Cleveland Street lot that largely goes unused because patrons park on neighborhood streets to be closer, he said.
City Council member John Dingfelder urged residents and business owners to explore the proposal on a two-year basis "and see how it goes."
The crowd voted 34-14 in favor of the plan. Corbett estimated it could take up to 100 days to put the plan in action, assuming it passes two readings at City Council meetings. Meeting times will be advertised in coming weeks.
Emily Nipps can be reached at nipps @sptimes.com or (813) 226-3431.