The Coastal Star

Delray Beach: New restaurant parking requirements back on the table

By Margie Plunkett

Delray Beach commissioners revived the discussion of downtown restaurant parking, voting 3-2 to reconsider whether to remove incentives once designed to attract restaurants. The ordinance will be heard on first reading Sept. 6.
Early in August, the panel had voted down the measure, noting that more information was needed before making the change — which would entail doubling the required parking for restaurants downtown on Atlantic Avenue. The move also boosts costs for new establishments: If they can’t supply the required parking, they must pay fees as required by the in-lieu parking program.
Commissioner Tom Carney asked that the issue be revisited, saying that he felt it had to be addressed sooner rather than later. “Taking it off the table without a full discussion, I think is a mistake,” he said at an Aug. 16 meeting. The measure, which if approved, would not be retroactive and would affect only applications filed after 5 p.m. Sept. 6, the date of the first reading of the ordinance.
The second reading is scheduled for Sept. 20.
Also voting for reconsideration of withdrawing the parking incentives for these restaurants were Commissioners Angelita Grey and Jay Alperin, who was appointed in August to fill the seat vacated by Fred Fetzer.
    All the necessary information was not discussed when the last ordinance came up, said Alperin, adding, “I happened to have been here in ’93 when we did all this (granted parking incentives).” The new commissioner said he had spoken to staff about getting a lot of the facts he had not heard during the previous discussion.
Mayor Woodie McDuffie and Commissioner Adam Frankel opposed reconsideration.
    While the discussion was of removing incentives for restaurants, the city doesn’t know what kind of retail it wants to attract, the mayor said, adding the entire issue should be left for exploration by a new economic development director when that person is hired.
The ordinance that commissioners voted down in August would have affected restaurants on Atlantic Avenue from Swinton to Northeast and Southeast Fifth, bringing parking requirements in line with regulations throughout the city. 
While the city once worked to lure restaurants to this section, it is now saturated with the establishments, city staff contended. When it ended the incentives, the city also intended to follow up with incentives for retail retention and expansion.
Eateries smaller than 6,000 square feet would have been required to have 12 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet — up from six previously — under the rejected ordinance. Restaurants larger than 6,000 square feet would have been required to have 15 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet.
Costs would have risen for restaurants that couldn’t furnish the required parking and would pay for in-lieu parking — which costs $15,600 per space on Atlantic west of the Intracoastal, $18,200 per space east of the Intracoastal; $7,800 for areas including within the Pineapple Grove Main Street area and $4,000 in the West Atlantic Neighborhood.

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Comment by Brian on September 1, 2011 at 5:28pm

Quote :"The move also boosts costs for new establishments: If they can’t supply the required parking, they must pay fees as required by the in-lieu parking program"

 

Yup, Delray Beach needs to recoup the cost of that parking garage that was double the original estimate -- one way or another!

 

The restaurants on the avenue are a big component of what makes Delray special. Sure, let's disincentive the restaurants and then provide incentives for overpriced retail clothing shops. Makes perfect sense if you are a public servant -- or someone else not responsible for knowing how to make a business profit or break even.

 

Sure, parking is an issue, but here's the perfect chance to tackle a second problem at the same time. Add reserved, UP-FRONT, on-the-street parking for 'green' vehicles. By re-allocating the street parking for electric vehicles, like GEMs, golf carts, motorcycles and scooters, you could more than double the existing street parking while encouraging the patrons to go green. No this won't solve world hunger, but it wold be better than penalizing new and/or existing restaurants for a problem that is the city's.

 

 

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