The Coastal Star

Delray Beach: Downtown parking study gets early approval





By Margie Plunkett


A recently released study of Delray Beach parking got a stamp of approval — in concept — by the city’s Parking Management Advisory Board, but the panel still
wants to discuss major areas of the proposal before it’s put into effect.


The parking study was commissioned to help manage parking as the city’s downtown grows and attracts even more visitors. The study largely addresses the downtown
core of Delray Beach, where motorists often find themselves circling the
vibrant business district multiple times in search of convenient parking.


Consultant Kimley Horn of West Palm Beach, which prepared the study, has been taking it on the rounds through various city
panels and is scheduled at the regular City Commission meeting, July 6 at 6
p.m.


“This has exposed a lot of things that had to be discussed,” said Fran Miracola, who represents the Downtown Development Authority on the parking board.


The board discussed several recommendations of the study, including “in-lieu” parking spaces and pricing systems to move employee and other parking into the
garages to open on-street parking for visitors. It had several areas that it
wanted to possibly modifying from the original study.


The panel also debated the merits of the parking plan as a revenue generator. Parking board member Joseph Pike, who represents Planning and Zoning, saw the goal as “to get people to use the
resources we have.”


Poorna Bhattacharya of Kimley Horn said, “The goal is parking management. When you implement a revenue system, you end up making money rather than using it.” The
study estimates that Delray Beach would recover its costs from the
recommendation in 20 months as presented.


Some of the study’s recommendations are:


• Provide first 20 minutes of parking free for on-street parking, then $1.25 per hour within downtown core,
and 75 cents per hour outside core.


• Provide first-hour parking free for off-street parking, then $1 per hour in core, 75 cents outside core. Daily maximum $5.


• Change the “in-lieu” system that allows business developers to pay into a fund for community parking if they have a hardship and can’t provide off-street
parking spaces. Extend the system to those who do not have a hardship.


• Expand the hours garages charge for parking, charge in some surface lots and install multi-pay stations.


• Install multi-space meters for on-street parking.


• Invest in handheld citation computers.


• Extend beach parking permits to residents only, or charge a different fee for non-residents.


• Take a visitor-friendly approach to parking enforcement, in which officers are ambassadors for the city.


• Study the valet parking system to determine the most logical queue and parking locations.


• Modify the shuttle system, including improved connectivity with Tri-Rail, PalmTran and parking and to improve promotion of Route 2.

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