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Interesting letter to the editor responding to the public parking item on Wednesday night’s city commission meeting agenda, as reported in yesterday’s theoretical Key West mayor campaign platform and related ponderables post at goodmorningkeywest.com.
Commission had best leave well enough alone
I do not agree with voting someone out of office over one issue. However, sometimes the issue is so large, it is a one-issue cause.
I and a lot of people in Key West have off-street parking. When we built or remodeled our homes, we planned our parking. Since we reserve land for parking, we sacrifice home space, yard space and, most of all, we pay taxes on that space. The use of public street space for private use is a “land grab.”
If the commissioners go though with this land grab, they should be voted out of office on this one issue! In addition, everyone who has off-street parking should remove that land from the taxes for that property immediately.
Larry A. Niemiec
I pulled this from yesterday’s post:
In this article about the city’s parking problem, which will never go away, I highlighted the truth which swam among and devoured the sharks.
Ideas include spots for only Old Towners
BY TERRY SCHMIDA Citizen Staff email@example.com
The city of Key West appears inclined to move forward on a proposal backed by Mayor Craig Cates to encourage workers who drive downtown to their jobs to park in city-managed lots, such as the Park-n-Ride garage and Angela Street parking lot.
Other parking proposals, outlined at a Wednesday evening workshop at Old City Hall, were met with slightly less enthusiasm from city commissioners, including one that would restrict parking in the 1,008 spots marked “Residential Parking” to Old Town residents, who would have to buy a $50 window decal for the privilege.
The problem, according city Parking Manager John Wilkins, is fairly simple: There is more demand than supply for parking in Old Town.
“We’re really at capacity during season,” Wilkins said during the meeting, attended by dozens of residents.
As part of a solution, Wilkins suggested, in an executive summary, that the city kill off its Residential Metered Parking Permits, which allow 48 residents who live in walk-ups, or on streets where metered parking is predominant, to park at those meters for $106 per year.
Bemoaning the loss of $275,000 per year to the city the permits represent, Wilkins said: “I would suggest doing away with it … or at least raise the rates to $100 per month.”
Noting that there are a number of privately-owned parking lots in Old Town offering long-term parking, Wilkins stressed that the city sponsored option wasn’t fair to these business owners.
Another target of Wilkins’ proposal were the 163 Employee Assistance Parking Permits, which allows employees who work downtown to park in metered spots at a cost of $400 for four months.
“I would eliminate these also,” Wilkins said.
It is this latter item that Cates and Commissioner Tony Yaniz supported changing, so that downtown workers would be able to park at the two large city facilities for a cheaper rate.
Commissioner Terri Johnston noted that both programs, as well as the entire Parking Waiver Zone around Duval Street, date back to a time when growing the economy of the area was a priority.
“We’re light years away from that now,” she said.
Yaniz, whose District 4 seat encompasses part of New Town, was adamant that residential parking in Old Town be available for use by all Key Westers, saying he’d “be damned” if he’d vote for any such proposal to restrict the spots to Old Towners, as long as his constituents were being restricted from parking their boats in front of their homes, an issue that appeared settled last year when the commission voted to eliminate the practice islandwide.
But District 1 Commissioner Jimmy Weekley was equally insistent that residential spaces be reserved for the residents of the streets they’re marked on.
“Why should people who live in the historic district have to compete for parking with people coming downtown to party when they come home from work?” he asked.
Parking in most cities is at a premium, he noted, suggesting that non-Old Town residents had been “spoiled” in the past by the availability of cheap parking.
“We have to wean them off of that,” Weekley said. He suggested a pilot program in parts of Old Town.
Parking is big business in Key West.
Last year, the city brought in over $4.5 million in revenues from selling the service, and Wilkins clearly believes the city could be earning even more. Cates noted that this gusher of meter cash has helped keep Key West property taxes lower than the county at large, while providing a correspondingly higher level of services.
Johnston called the parking issue a “very, very serious problem,” and suggested it was part of the larger issue of allowing the expansion of guesthouses, the building of hotels and other businesses without a corresponding increase in the number of spaces allotted to their customers, as well as the carving up of single-family homes into multiple unit dwellings.
Commissioner Clayton Lopez of District 6 agreed.
“It’s an old problem and it’s getting worse,” he said. “We need to look at the whole pie, and not just the piece that affects us the most.”
Yaniz suggested the city enter into talks with guesthouse owners to encourage them to strike deals with local parking lots as a partial solution to the ongoing parking issue.
“That would solve a big part of the pie,” he said.
Yaniz and others present, including two members of the public who spoke, suggested a “jitney”-type shuttle to take people on a loop through Old Town as well as to their cars in city facilities, such as the Park-n-Ride.
Others suggested that any suggestion of restricting Old Town parking to its residents only was doomed to fail.
No action was taken at Wednesday’s workshop.
Wilkins was instructed to do a “significant amount of homework” by Lopez, and report back to the commissioners both individually and as a body at a later date.
Key West should not permit any new lodging places which do not provide on site off street parking for all of their employees and residents.
Comments in The Citizen Blog about yesterday’s article, my thoughts in italics:
Submitted on Thu, 03/21/2013 – 2:44pm by 666
The City never enforces the current parking laws so why bother with new ones? This is nothing more then a way to justify charging residents new fees. Literally every day there are out of state cars and rental cars parked in residential spots on my street and I have NEVER seen a single parking ticket. Enforce the current laws. Yes, even against the tourists. The City would make a fortune and we would not need new rules or an overpaid Parking Tsar.
Submitted on Thu, 03/21/2013 – 11:26am by Mac
Yeah, we need jitneys– one more vehicle jamming traffic in Old Town.
Don’t these people even think?
Submitted on Thu, 03/21/2013 – 11:05am by BenAnders
Let’s see. The Key West city bus system costs the city an average of $6+ for every rider, but they only collect $2. How much is the city going to waste on a new mode of transit that no one is going to ride?
I talked with Tom Milone about the city transit system the day before yesterday. Tom is a citizen watchdog and ran against Jimmy Weekley for the city commission in 2009. I ran for mayor that year, and I voted for Tom, who regularly attended city commission and other city government meetings, which Weekly did not. Weekly had served several terms as mayor, and before that as city commissioner. He was on the city commission which voted to have the city attorney to grind Duck Tours into dust, which ended up costing the city around $8,000,000, and many times I heard Weekly defend how he voted on that.
Anyway, Tom said the city is getting itself a new transportation director, who hopefully will be able to make the city transit buses profitable. Tom said Europeans want to use the city buses, but don’t know the routes and times. I said it used to be the transit authority published a map showing the routes and times, and those could be displayed at bus stops. Tom said that information could be made available for people with state of the art cell phones with GPS.
I said I probably have given 300 people rides into Key West, who were waiting at bus stops on US 1. I lost count of the times I heard the bus was late, or it had not come, or it came before it was supposed to come. I said the city bus runs all the way up to Marathon, 20 miles of which above Big Pine Key is dead space. Lots of people on Big Pine and the islands below commute to work in Key West, but I doubt few people in Marathon and above do.
Also, lots of people living, or visiting, on Big Pine and below ride the city bus into Key West to hang out there and do whatever. So running the city bus up to Big Pine and back makes sense, but not above there. If city buses turn around on Big Pine, the run will be shortened by an hour and another daily bus run or two might be added.
The city should not subsidize Key West businesses by bringing their employees and customers into the city for less than it costs the city to run the buses up the Keys and back.
Submitted on Thu, 03/21/2013 – 9:25am by trapper
Keep it up and you’ll be Mayor.
Submitted on Thu, 03/21/2013 – 9:18am
why is so much time being wasted on parking? this is a problem that can only be solved by making the island bigger. (build more spaces)
Submitted on Thu, 03/21/2013 – 7:11am by got beer?
Great, just what we need. More vehicles on the streets of downtown Key West.
Submitted on Thu, 03/21/2013 – 1:52am by Rabbi Flanagan
The city should issue color-coded residential permits and limit street parking in impacted areas to specific residents. Local workers should receive consideration at designated facilities, but residential parking should be reserved for residents.
I love micro managing, I wonder how many meter maids it will take to enforce that program? Far as I can tell, the meter maids are not enforcing the current Old Town residential parking ordinance.
Over-building caused this problem, and a way to partially fix that is to build more city parking garages in Old Town. There used to be a parking garage at the Angela Street City Hall, which could be rebuilt. There also could be a city parking garage in front of the old Waterfront Market, across Caroline Street from Pepe’s and Harpoon Harry’s.
However, no way do I, and lots of people I know up this way, drive down to Key West to eat in an Old Town Key West restaurant, take in a movie at Tropic Cinema, attend a city commission meeting, see friends, and pay to park. No way do we ride a city bus, if we can drive, which is far more convenient, especially when there is no telling when, or if, city buses will show up.
Many times people I picked up at bus stops on US 1, going into or coming from Key West, told me of waiting for an hour, and longer, and how grateful they were that I stopped and offered them a ride. Often they offered me what they would have paid for the bus, but I didn’t take it unless they really insisted.
There is a further rounds in the school district wing of The State Mental, aka the Florida Keys post today at goodmorningfloridakeys.com.