By Margie Plunkett
The Delray Beach Parking Management Advisory Board voted unanimously to recommend to city commissioners a metered parking system on downtown Atlantic Avenue, intended to shift longer-term parking onto secondary streets, lots and garages.
The board adopted a plan based on smart meters to allow patrons of downtown merchants enough time to shop, yet turn over the parking so that spots are available to short-term parkers. The system also was intended to encourage visitors who want to stay longer — say for lunch, parking or a stroll — to park off the main drag.
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., motorists could park up to two hours on Atlantic Avenue, with an hour free parking and then $2 for the remaining hour in the area west of the Intracoastal to Swinton Avenue and from North Second Street to South Second Street, according to the plan.
From 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., the fee would be $2 an hour, with no time limit.
The price of parking would be reduced as motorists parked away from Atlantic. Secondary street parking would be $1.50 an hour; lots, $1 an hour; and the garages would be free or a nominal fee, under the board’s recommendation.
The panel also recommended adjusting the system based on seasonal changes and to provide employee and resident parking programs.
Smart meters would serve multiple parking spaces and make it unnecessary to locate a meter at each parking space. The technology provides several features, including the ability to be adjusted for parking times or prices as needed.
The recommendation, subject to commission review and approval, was tentatively scheduled to be presented at the commission’s May 8 workshop meeting.
The wide-ranging discussion touched on possibly tapping merchants for part of the cost of operating a metered system through an assessment district, as well as a plan that would have paid parking in lots collected by an attendant rather than meters.
Chairman Fran Marincola earlier pushed a plan that would cap daytime parking on Atlantic at one hour — but parking would be free, noting he was talking to merchant David Cook of Hand’s Office & Art Supply, who was in the meeting audience. “Merchants want to say we have free parking,” he said. “You can get your business done in an hour. If I need more time, I have to park on another street or in the garage.”