The need for parking meters in the downtown Sarasota area was eliminated recently when city commissioners knocked down the practice in a three-to-two vote. Shop owners, who have been opposed to the implementation of paid parking for the past year, have decided to band together by encouraging their employees to park where they will not take up valuable spaces for customers, prevent the “[clogging of] traffic and … keep downtown bustling.”
“We are encouraging other businesses to make sure that their employees are parking in the parking garage,” Downtown Sarasota Alliance President John Harshman said. “We’re doing that not because there’s a huge problem with that, but because [the issue] has been raised in the past.”
Previously, concerns had arisen over downtown customers having to pay for parking, which was speculated to result in loss of business. Those who were also employees in the downtown area had to use the parking meters while they worked, a measure that stirred up resentment from workers in the area. In the Sept. 23 issue of the Catalyst, a clerk on Main Street was quoted as saying, “Who wants to pay the city $40 a month to have a job? It should be required to have free parking for workers downtown and have them park in assigned spaces.”
However, the free parking came with a cost. In order to keep parking in the Palm Avenue garage free, $14 million will come from taxpayer pockets to keep it as such.
City commissioners are currently working with businesses in order to make sure that paid parking remains a thing of the past.