After emerging from about two weeks of recess, the Gainesville City Commission met July 12 for a special city commission meeting where Malisa McCreedy, the city’s director of transportation and mobility, gave a presentation on proposed changes to parking zones and rates.
Parking rates haven’t increased since 2004.
“The discussion about parking rates has been something that has been talked about for at least over a decade,” City Manager Lee Feldman said.
Feldman said a final decision needs to be made in order to determine whether there will be a revenue increase in the general fund budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 and ending Sept. 30, 2022.
The proposed changes include limiting areas that are considered high demand as two-hour parking spaces that cost $1 an hour, limiting off-street surface lots to four-hour spaces, reducing parking garage rates to $0.50 an hour and slashing five of the current parking zones and redesignating the remaining six.
Annual parking permit rates for all zones will increase from the current cost of $115.75 for zones 1, 2 and 5 and $58 for all other zones to $216, which will create a potential increase in city revenue of about $225,000.
McCreedy said the idea behind the higher prices for the two-hour spots is to ensure one or two spots are available on curbsides at all times.
The proposed parking changes were motivated by the city’s 2021 community survey response that found parking availability as the No. 2 concern.
While Commissioner David Arreola said he supported the hourly parking changes, he is opposed to the proposed neighborhood parking permit rate increase.
“Since rates haven’t changed in 17 years, just at the period of time we’re at now with people’s economic struggles a lot of people who are paying for these passes are probably not ready to take on this additional burden of cost,” he said. “And so I don’t think it’s the right time for us to make such a dramatic leap even if there is a rational nexus for it.”
Mayor Lauren Poe said he believed all the passes will sell quickly, however.
“We’ll learn if it’s priced too high if we don’t sell all the passes,” he said. “That’s simple supply and demand.”
Increasing pedestrian and bicycle safety and maintaining the city’s goal of reducing the effects of climate change also propelled the proposed changes.
“This is one of the things we can do as a city to help with lowering greenhouse gases,” Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos said.
He said drivers often circle in search of a spot to park which is a big issue contributing to vehicle emissions, and the proposed changes will help mitigate that.
Hayes-Santos suggested funding more lighting in the areas that will experience higher parking demand to accommodate for the rise in people using those spaces, and Commissioner Reina Saco agreed.
The commission unanimously voted to pass the motion to implement the changes in the parking fee structure and passed the motion to change the neighborhood parking permit fees 4-2 with Arreola and Commissioner Gail Johnson in opposition. Commissioner Desmon Duncan-Walker was absent for both votes.
Contact Abigail Hasebroock at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @abbeyhasebroock.
Abigail is a second-year journalism major covering university general assignment news for The Alligator. When she’s not catching up on school or reporting, she’s spending time outside, reading or reorganizing her Spotify playlists - usually all at the same time.