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Delray Beach Downtown Development Authority asks for feedback on parking meter proposal

Posted at 3:39 PM, Aug 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-01 18:33:52-04

Soon you may have to pay to park, shop and dine in Delray Beach.

The city is proposing a plan to add parking meters along Atlantic Avenue, city lots, garages and the beach. 

The Downtown Development Authority held a meeting with local business owners and residents Tuesday to hear their concerns. The board will be making a recommendation to the city at Wednesday night's commission meeting.

Business owners already hate the proposal. Mehgan Gensman is a waitress at the Green Owl Restaurant on Atlantic Avenue and said it's already a challenge to get to work. 

"They just took 80 plus parking spots from us to make this IPic theater," said Gensman. 

She does not support the city's most expensive proposal or proposal with the "highest return," parking on Atlantic Avenue and the entire Downtown District would cost $2 an hour with a two-hour time limit on the avenue Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

On Fridays from 5 until midnight parking would cost $3.50 an hour. Weekends would also be $3.50 an hour from 8 a.m. to midnight.

The proposals range from $1.50 an hour to $3.50 per hour every day to midnight.

Garage parking would cost a dollar an hour 24 hours a day.

"I'm a waitress so I make five dollars an hour, so is it really fair to do that?" said Gensman. "If you work a 9 hour shift, five days a week that's 45 dollars a week, that's 180 dollars a month, 2,160 a year to come to work." 

Delray Beach City Commissioner Mitch Katz believes adding meters would free up parking for customers. 

"We a lot of people that 8 to 10 hours, employees in prime parking spot that could be used customers and as well as revenue for much needed services in the city," said Katz. 

Residents would be eligible for an annual permit. The Downtown Development Authority wants to recommend that employees also have parking available to them in certain garages and city lots, but business owners are asking for a discount.

Many told the DDA board that their employees may not be able to afford the parking and just quit. 

"It's crazy," said Jessica Luntz who works downtown at an online retail company. "I think to add it [meters] here it's really going to be a deterrent for more people to come down and spend their money." 

Business owners also expressed that the enforcement of a 2-hour time limit will cause customers to go somewhere else. 

The Delray Beach City Commission will discuss what will go into the drafting of an ordinance at Wednesday's meeting.