JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Drivers and residents parking in most on-street parking spots Downtown are noticing a steep increase in parking rates at any of 916 digital parking meters.
What would have cost $5 a day is now going to cost $20 a day. The city told News4Jax the increase is to discourage people from parking all day in spaces intended for use by people making short visits to restaurants, shops and offices.
“It has literally quadrupled,” said Jacksonville resident Michael Holeman.
The meters take coins or credit cards. There’s no app for that.
“We’re a little behind on times,” Holeman said. “$20 a day, it’s crazy when you put it into perspective like that.”
Corey Bartley lives in another part of Jacksonville but frequents downtown. Bartley said the parking meter changes could keep people from coming Downtown.
“I think it is ridiculous,” Bartley said. “If we’re looking at increasing our Downtown traffic, I don’t think this is going to be a good deal for us.”
Some Downtown business owners are worried, too. Ricki Ben Simon owns Gili’s Kitchen on Adams Street and said it’s the only Kosher restaurant in town.
“Basically, we were in shock. We didn’t know, as a business owner. I would have liked to have known of these things ahead of time,” Ben Simon said. “It does not make sense for my employees that need parking and going to spend $20 a day that need to pay for parking and not for my customers who want to buy a sandwich.”
Manual meters like some on Liberty Street (pictured above) have fixed rates and are an exception to the parking meter rate changes.
Late Wednesday, Jacksonville’s public affairs department responded to several questions News4Jax asked about the price hike, saying Jacksonville’s parking rates had been very low compared to other cities, with increased traffic congestion as motorists sometimes made multiple loops around their destination looking for vacant spaces.
“The meters are intended for use by transient parkers visiting nearby restaurants, shops, offices, etc. and we want to discourage people working downtown from parking all-day in metered spaces rather than in garages or lots,” the city responded in an email. “As such, the parking rates at the on-street meter locations should be priced high enough to encourage turnover which enables those parking spaces to be utilized by many different users throughout the day. In many cases, maximum time limits are also utilized (as in Jacksonville) to discourage long-term users from parking in the most valuable parking spaces.”
The city said it is pursuing the use of phone apps to pay for metered parking.
“Such applications have revolutionized on-street parking in other cities by allowing such municipalities to establish variable rates based on demand,” the city wrote.
For example, a meter near an auditorium or sports complex may have a $2/hour rate from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but a flat $10 “event” rate beginning at 6 p.m. in advance of an event occurring in the venue at 7 or 8 p.m.
The city said the fee increases would help cover the operating expenses of Jacksonville’s parking division, which currently operates in the red.