By Jane Smith
Free parking in downtown Delray Beach ended in late June.
The city has installed 32 smart parking kiosks on Atlantic Avenue between Swinton Avenue and the Intracoastal Waterway and one block north and south of Atlantic.
Meters are enforced from noon to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and noon to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Drivers will each need to note their license plate number and go to the nearest kiosk to pay by credit card, cash or smartphone app. Change is not given.
The city also switched to just one zone downtown for parking time limits before enforcement started. The cost is $2 per hour with a three-hour time limit.
“With the time and zone changes, we needed extra time to program the meters and redo the signs,” said Susan Goebel-Canning, public works director.
For the first 30 days, until late July, downtown patrons will have a grace period and will not have to pay the tickets, which cost at least $35 per violation. The first 20 minutes are free for those who want to get takeout food or do short errands.
When city staff presented the parking information in early June, they pointed out the revenue the meters would bring to the city — nearly $1 million, after expenses.
Mayor Shelly Petrolia was the lone vote against installing the kiosks. She wanted to see a permit program for city residents to offset the costs to taxpayers paying for the meters and then to park.
The City Commission gave staff 90 days to develop a residents’ parking program, similar to the beach parking permit.
“City staff talked about the revenue, but the parking management program was supposed to increase turnover on Atlantic while stopping employees and others from parking in the spaces all day,” Petrolia said after the early June commission meeting.
Residents and visitors still can find free parking in the six public parking lots with time limits between two and nine hours.
Free parking until 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays also is available in the city’s two garages: Old School Square and Robert Federspiel. After 4 p.m. until midnight, drivers will pay a flat $5 fee. Sunday parking is free at both garages.
The city’s Downtown Development Authority will help educate the public about where to park. Its downtown safety ambassadors, on foot and bikes, also will have information about parking in the downtown.
East of the Intracoastal Waterway, the parking rate remains $1.50 per hour for up to four hours, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. every day. East Atlantic Avenue to A1A is metered, as is A1A between Casuarina Road and Beach Drive.
In addition, the city has seven beachside parking lots that are metered and enforced between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. every day at the $1.50 hourly rate.
Drivers with disabled placards or license plates can park for free for three hours west of the Intracoastal or four hours on the beachside.