Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg's proposed parking enforcement changes spark outrage

ST. PETERSBURG — Bella Brava owner Robert Sanderson predicts it will be the end of Central Avenue.

Rhonda Shear threatened to relocate her lingerie shop, Maison Rouge.

And at Bayfront Tower, Hal Freedman fears he'll have to start warning his dinner party guests to carry pocketfuls of spare change.

The city's plan to expand parking meter enforcement hours near Central Avenue has sparked fury in residents and business owners alike. The measure would require visitors who currently don't have to pay after 6 p.m. or on weekends to keep plugging in quarters until 10 p.m.

The proposal is just the latest in a series of expansions to downtown parking enforcement in recent years. However, this newest tweak has prompted an unprecedented outcry, especially from business owners who are already struggling to keep downtown booming amid layoffs, pay cuts and national economic gloom.

The message to City Hall? Back off.

City officials have responded to the complaints deftly, setting up last-minute coffee meetings and conference calls to persuade critics that the expanded parking plan will benefit everyone — not just city coffers.

The proposal will eliminate a confusing array of meter enforcement times and standardize when meters are policed throughout downtown, said Joe Kubicki, the city's transportation director.

Now, some meters are policed from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., others until 8 p.m. and a handful demand your change until 11 p.m. Hours vary from street to street.

Under the new plan, all meters would be policed from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. seven days a week.

While the measure will reduce enforcement hours on a handful of streets, the 500 meters near the rows of restaurants, shops and bars on Central Avenue will see dramatically increased enforcement times.

That's a good thing, Kubicki said.

"I'm not sure the businesses along Central Avenue understand that through the use of parking enforcement, they can help ensure turnover at their businesses, and the result is more people are using their businesses," Kubicki said.

But shop and restaurant owners are suspicious of the city's true intentions.

"This is not a town big enough to hold new crowds every few hours," said Joe Moledo, manager of the Table restaurant and lounge on Central. "All they are doing is scaring customers away. If you are drinking and having a good time, why would people go out and feed the meters every few hours?"

Sanderson of Bella Brava believes the city simply wants to collect more parking fines.

St. Petersburg parking attendants are notorious for catching offenders just as the meter's clock runs out. On some streets, linger too long over a plate of spaghetti, and a ticket is a near guarantee.

"In this environment, a $25 ticket is onerous," Sanderson said. Customers "will never come back. They'll go to a restaurant with a parking lot."

City Council member Karl Nurse, who represents downtown, said he will ask Kubicki to delay plans to implement the parking changes, which were scheduled to go into effect at the end of the month.

"If you upset the applecart, some of these businesses won't survive," Nurse said.

Mayor Rick Baker, however, dismissed fears that expanded parking enforcement will scare customers away. Meters on busy Beach Drive already must be paid until 11 p.m., he pointed out.

"Why is it going to stop people from going to Central Avenue if it has not stopped people on Beach Drive?" Baker said.

Cristina Silva can be reached at (727) 893-8846 or csilva@sptimes.com.

>>By the numbers

Counting up the change collected

1,450: parking meters in St. Petersburg, all downtown

$526,000: parking meter revenue from October through April

$1.3 million: parking garage revenue from October through April

$1: cost per hour in city garages (maximum of $6 a day)

$0.50: cost per hour to park at meters

St. Petersburg's proposed parking enforcement changes spark outrage 06/10/09 [Last modified: Thursday, June 11, 2009 6:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. President Trump offers prayers for Kissimmee police

    Blogs

    President Donald Trump reacted to the police shooting in Kissimmee:

  2. Kissimmee police officer dies, one gravely wounded; Jacksonville officers shot

    News

    KISSIMMEE — A Kissimmee police officer died and a second was gravely wounded Friday night, police Chief Jeff O'Dell said.

    Two police officers have been shot and killed in Kissimmee, authorities say. The shooting happened in the area of Palmway and Cypress around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. Photo courtesy of WESH.com
  3. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  4. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming

    Roads

    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  5. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.