Sarasota commission decides to ‘bag’ parking meters

HERALD STAFF REPORTMarch 6, 2012 

SARASOTA Sarasota city commissioners on Monday voted 3-2 to end the city’s controversial downtown paid parking program.

“They will be bagged starting tomorrow,” Jan Thornburg, city of Sarasota spokeswoman, said Monday of the roughly $500,000 in high tech downtown parking meters that cost downtown visitors $1 per hour to park from November through April and 50 cents an hour from May through October.

The city will return to what it was using before the parking meters, which is essentially free, two-hour on-street parking, Thornburg said.

“It will take a while to get the parking signs reinstalled,” Thornburg said.

Even though city commissioners recently adjusted the rates on the parking meters, some of which took coins and credit cards and some of which just took coins, the issue just wouldn’t seem to go away.

During a session on the parking program Monday afternoon at city hall, commissioners were hearing from merchants that the paid parking was hurting their businesses, Thornburg said.

“And some users said they didn’t like the pay stations,” Thornburg said. “Some expressed difficulty in their ability to use them.”

Mayor Suzanne Atwell and Commissioner Willie Shaw both voted to keep the parking meters while Vice-Mayor Terry Turner and commissioners Paul Caragiulo and Shannon Snyder voted to remove them, Thornburg said.

The city of Sarasota’s Palm Avenue parking garage also will now be free, Thornburg said. It did cost 50 cents to park there.

The Second Street parking garage near Whole Foods was always free and will remain so, Thornburg said.

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