By Mary Hladky

    On one point, at least, everyone agrees: There isn’t enough parking in downtown Boca Raton.
    What to do about that is another matter.
    After wrestling with the issue for more than one hour at their Dec. 12 workshop meeting, City Council members agreed to explore the possibility of starting a shuttle service that would ferry people from free public parking spots to downtown restaurants and shops in the evenings.
    They also pledged to reinvigorate efforts to build a downtown parking garage.
    When the tourist season is in full swing, council members will cast fresh eyes on the downtown parking meter system to determine if meters are needed at all and, if they think meters are needed, how could they be used more effectively.
    “The sad reality is we need better parking solutions in downtown Boca Raton,” said council member Scott Singer.
    Speaking of Royal Palm Place, Mayor Susan Haynie said, “It is a free-for-all there. If you go at night there are people parked everywhere.”
    Downtown parking has long defied easy solutions. City officials have wanted to build a public garage for years. But City Manager Leif Ahnell noted that most downtown property has been acquired by developers, leaving no suitable sites for the city to buy.
    The parking issue came to a head again when Robert Eisen, a land use consultant with Investments Limited, said parking meters aren’t improving the parking problem. They were intended to stop people from snagging parking spots and leaving their cars there all day.
    “We encourage you to find that holy grail of the downtown parking garage,” said Eisen, whose employer is the largest owner of commercial properties in the downtown, including Royal Palm Place.
    If a garage is built, it might make sense to use parking meters on city streets in conjunction with the garage, he said, provided studies are done to determine the best meter system and the meters are enforced 24 hours a day.
    If not, existing meters should be removed and no other ones installed, he said.
    His request was supported by nearly 500 downtown business owners, customers and residents who signed petitions.
    Ken Johnson, a Boca Raton real estate economist hired by Investments Limited to do an analysis, said that the differing lengths of parking times — ranging from 30 minutes to three to four hours — cause drivers to clog the streets as they cruise around looking for the meter option that best suits them. Meters that allow many hours of parking don’t force drivers to vacate spots for other drivers to use, he said.
    City officials, though, allowed such variations in parking times because business owners requested it. A fast-food restaurant operator might want 30-minute parking, while a hair salon owner needs three to four hours.
    Council members said they were open to rethinking meters. But they moved beyond that issue to urge staff to find a way to get a parking garage.
    Singer said the solution might be to build one on the City Hall property at 201 W. Palmetto Park Road.
    For a more immediate partial remedy, Haynie suggested an evening shuttle. People could park at City Hall or the nearby old library building that now houses city offices and ride it to and from downtown.
    “It needs to run frequently,” she said.

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Comments

    • Move employees out of the CBD. 
    • Implement new signage/branding program to make parking more intuitive and visitor friendly. 
    • Implement parking code revisions to promote shared parking, TDM and redevelopment. 
    • Implement mobile payment option
    • Determine parking operations management.-City or Contract
    • Do a rate survey
  • WHAT A GROUP OF BAFOONS!

  • IDIOTS!

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