Delray Beach: Parking policy dust-up settled with meeting cancellation

By Margie Plunkett
A Parking Management Advisory Board meeting to collect public comment on extending metered-parking hours at the beach was cancelled after Delray Beach city commissioners noted it wasn’t the board’s position to make policy.
    “Why the Parking Management Board is being involved with policy, I do not know. That’s our job,” said Vice Mayor Tom Carney. “I want to stop it now. If there’s going to be issues about what time we think should be on those meters, it’s a commission decision.”
    The parking board meeting was initially set for Nov. 27 to accept public comment on a proposal to extend the time for metered parking at the beach from 8 p.m. daily to midnight.
    The notice of the meeting explained that currently, the parking meter fees are required between 9:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 7 a.m. through 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
 “The recommendation to extend the meter fees to (midnight) daily was based on a suggestion from a citizen as a means to generate additional revenue during these challenging economic times,” the notice said.
    Carney objected to the parking board’s planned meeting during commission’s Nov. 20 session. The Vice Mayor said he had initially raised the issue of beach-area metered parking to move enforcement of metered parking from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. for the benefit of residents.
    He asked for the change because the hours of parking enforcement in the morning were ridiculous, he said. “At 8 a.m., the only people being ensnared were our residents who were going down to the beach to enjoy it.”
 His proposal was to start at 9:30 a.m. during the week and 8:30 a.m. on the weekend.
    “But then they moved the 6 p.m. (ending time for metered parking) to 8. Now the suggestion is to move it to 12 o’clock,” Carney said. “Everyone at the beach wants to stop metered parking at 6. I don’t know how this got so skewed. It’s being driven by people who don’t live at the beach.”
    For the same reason Atlantic Avenue merchants’ views were considered when downtown parking was on the table, the views of the residents at the beach should also be considered, Carney said.
    When City Manager David Harden said the parking board had already taken formal action to change the hours to midnight, Carney said he had written to Harden previously pointing out the board didn’t have the authority to make the change.
    Harden said he would write a letter to the board to inform it that the hours of parking meters are not within the scope of its responsibility and that the board is not to make recommendations on the topic.
    A notice canceling the Parking Management Advisory Board meeting was issued Nov. 21, explaining, “the one item that was to be discussed at this meeting has been pulled for further study”.                        

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