By Jane Smith
He started as a valet attendant decades ago when he was in college. He liked meeting people and especially driving their cars. Soon he was “hooked” on the industry.
“Everybody needs parking,” said Jorge Alarcon, the new parking facilities manager for Delray Beach.
Formerly regional sales director for Eagle Parking, he saw the Delray Beach opening on the International Parking Institute’s website for parking professionals.
Alarcon, who started in June with an annual salary of $75,608, likes the challenge of implementing a master parking plan for the entire city — with commission approval. The plan covers meters on the barrier island, two city-owned parking garages and 14 city-owned parking lots.
Atlantic Avenue meters west of the Intracoastal Waterway are part of the plan, Alarcon said. Business owners, residents and others will want to have input. Then, the City Commission will have the final say — likely next spring.
The master plan includes bicycle parking, valet parking and pedestrian paths, as well as shuttle services, Alarcon said.
The plan was finished in 2010. “Technology in the parking industry has advanced tremendously in the past six years,” he said.
Here’s what Alarcon sees for the parking future in Delray Beach:
How many parking spaces does Delray Beach have?
The central core (Swinton Avenue east to the Intracoastal) has about 1,830 spaces, including about 700 in the two city-owned garages. The barrier island has around 683 spaces. We also have four golf-cart parking spaces and two areas designed for motorcycles, mopeds and bicycles.
The last study is now 6 years old. Do you think it’s time for a new study?
I am recommending the city explore available technology to provide a better parking experience for anyone visiting Delray Beach.
What plans do you have to make visitors, shoppers and diners aware of empty parking spaces?
Technology will play an important role in providing awareness of available parking. “Smart parking” is how the industry refers to it. By placing sensors in the parking spaces, the sensors will communicate through a smartphone application about the availability of parking spaces, which ones are empty or filled.
People visiting a restaurant or shop in Delray will be able to locate the closest available parking space and not spend time searching. They also will be able to pay for the parking using the smartphone application.
In addition, they have the option of receiving updates of when the parking time will expire and to purchase more time — all through their smartphones.
We are working on making the parking experience in Delray Beach as seamless as possible.
The city’s Community Redevelopment Agency recently updated its study of downtown parking needs. One update was done during mid-January, then the other update in late April. What did the results tell you?
The CRA’s recent 2016 report on the use of parking spaces in the downtown core reflects few changes between the months in the use of the parking for both on-street and off-street. In Delray Beach, we really do not have seasons when it comes to parking.