WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The city of West Palm Beach voted Monday to increase parking rates in certain areas of downtown.
Rates for "high-demand on-street parking" will change from $1.25 for the first hour to $2.50 for the first hour. Additionally, rates will remain in effect 24 hours per day instead of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Prices are also changing in parking garages. They will remain the same for the first two hours at just $1. After that, rates will increase to $2 for each additional half hour. On weekends, there will now be a flat rate of $5 for the day.
Service employees will benefit from the changes, as they can now receive 50% off garage permits.
Assistant City Administrator Armando Fana said the goal is to move folks who want to stay longer into the garages and promote turnover in busy areas.
"We have cars that will take a prime spot on a meter and just sit there for many, many hours because its free," Fana said. "And so, we want to keep that traffic flowing."
Fana said this is the first time the city has made changes since 2013. He said city commissioners discussed making rate changes before the COVID-19 pandemic but put the plans on pause when businesses and residents were impacted by lockdowns. Now that business is booming, he said, it was time to bring the plans back.
"All the businesses I talked to acknowledge that and realize that we're being very reasonable in our rates," he said. "And the goal here is not to raise revenue, but to move traffic along."
Alper Songul, the co-owner of Clematis Cafe, said he's concerned about the impact these hourly increases could make on business.
"As a business owner and as a resident over here, we're having a really hard time with it," Songul said. "People are on a limited budget, you know, and inflation is just now coming up. Prices are going up."
Fana said the city held input sessions with local businesses to get their input.
The money coming in from parking fees goes strictly back into parking operations, Fana said. It was recently put to work in downtown West Palm Beach with the addition of large screens and technology to show folks how many spots are available and where. He said the city is also working to improve safety by adding security cameras.
The weekend flat rate parking garage changes take effect immediately. All other rates will go into effect May 1.