The Coastal Star

Boca Raton: Free parking spaces are on the way out

By Mary Hladky

More parking meters are coming to the downtown.

But first, new meters replacing outdated ones will be installed in July.

The city soon will ink a deal that will allow drivers to use the free smartphone app to pay for parking at the new meters. The ParkMobile app can alert users when time on a meter is about to run out, and lets them extend the time.

Kiosks connected to the new meters also will take credit cards, coins and bills.

City Council members on April 22 decided to add additional meters in the core downtown area.

The additional meters will cost $550,000 to install and will bring in about $400,000 a year.

Council members see meters as a way to help alleviate the downtown parking shortage by better managing on-street parking spaces.

“We are not doing this to make money,” said Mayor Scott Singer.

People now park in unmetered places all day or night, making them unavailable to others looking for spots.

And some people who live in downtown high-rises are grabbing free on-street parking places instead of parking in their buildings’ garages, council members said.

Paying for street parking is intended to curtail those behaviors and encourage drivers to park for shorter periods of time, freeing up spaces.

Council members originally considered installing more meters in two phases. But Stephen Timberlake, Boca Raton’s special projects manager, said that unless all are installed at the same time, people will shun metered spaces and flock to free ones.

Most council members agreed that would worsen the parking problem.

“I am all or nothing,” said council member Monica Mayotte. “Do it all.”

“Let’s just do it,” said council member Andrea O’Rourke.

Council members soon will pass a resolution authorizing the additional meters that will allow city staff to begin work. Timberlake estimated roughly seven months for engineering, installation and a grace period before ticketing starts.

The additional 156 metered spaces will be on Federal and Dixie highways between Camino Real and Palmetto Park Road, on East Palmetto Park Road from Northeast Fifth Avenue to Mizner Boulevard, in the Sanborn Square area and around Royal Palm Place. 

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