By Jane Smith
Two weeks after the parking meters were activated in downtown Delray Beach, the City Commission agreed on July 10 to issue two types of parking passes for residents. One pass is available to any resident who can show a utility bill or a Florida driver’s license with a Delray Beach address. Those residents pay $12 for the annual parking pass that allows three free hours daily between noon and 6 p.m. on the side streets that are metered, west of the Intracoastal Waterway.
City Manager Mark Lauzier told the commissioners that the city’s Parking Management Advisory Board did not support the resident parking pass. But its Downtown Development Authority did and wanted parking on Atlantic Avenue to be included.
“Atlantic Avenue is too prime to be included,” Lauzier said.
The commissioners agreed to exclude Atlantic but expressed support for a resident parking program. “We are inviting our residents back to the downtown,” Mayor Shelly Petrolia said.
Residents had asked for the program because they felt their taxes were used to purchase the meters and for repairing the side streets and city-owned parking lots and garages.
“It’s another benefit to being a Delray resident,” Commissioner Ryan Boylston said.
The other type of parking passes will go to curing what was seen as an oversight. Both will be available around the end of September.
Tenants who live above the stores and offices along Atlantic Avenue used to park on the side streets or in the city-owned lots for free. Some even lost parking spaces to the city and its Community Redevelopment Agency for redevelopment.
About 50 people are in this category. They can now pay $96.30 for an annual parking pass that allows their vehicles to park all day and overnight in the city-owned lots and garages, west of the Intracoastal Waterway.
The city clerk, who oversees the permits, will make sure that residents of the newer condo and townhouse buildings on the side streets do not apply for an extra place to park their vehicles, Lauzier said. They already have garages as part of their condos or townhomes, commissioners said.
Petrolia, who voted against installing the parking meters, thinks the parking management system has become complicated. The city paid for the meters, then had to hire a company to manage them and enforce the parking times, the mayor said.
“If it was really to turn over the spaces on Atlantic Avenue, then we should have increased enforcement of the time limits,” Petrolia said. “But instead, staff is talking about using the meters to make money for the city.”