Tried to Park in Downtown Sarasota Lately?

Thu, Feb 2, 2012

General Legal Issues

Note: Much of the information in this post is now out of date.

It has gotten a little trickier, hasn’t it? Here is the lowdown on those parking meters: 

Right now (as of February 2012), a metered spot will cost you $1 an hour if you are parking Monday through Saturday from 9am until 8pm (except on city holidays, when it is not enforced). But, you can also pay for as little as 3 minutes at a time. Currently, the plan is for the meter prices to fall to 50 cents an hour this May. If you park downtown regularly, you can purchase a monthly parking permit which will land you a space in one of several garages. There is also reduced price daily parking in the Palm Avenue garage.

The meters are located in various parts of downtown, especially near Main Street. It is possible to avoid the meters if you want to walk a little further and arrive early, though. The Sarasota Police Department has a website page dedicated to parking rules and locations, complete with a map, at this address:

The current meter system was put in place on October 3, 2011, after much back-and-forth by the city of Sarasota. This came after a brief period of inactivity when the meters were shut down because of complaints by local businesses. Now that the meters are back up, it seems that they are being used less than 50 percent of the time by some estimates. Though the usage increases during peak times, like lunch hours, this was probably not in the city’s plans—since the parking project cost about 23 million dollars (including the Palm Avenue parking garage). The city created the meters with the hope that they would bring in some much needed revenue for the city. This decision is quite controversial and upsets many downtown business owners, not to mention downtown visitors.

If the cost was not enough, downtown merchants are also getting complaints about how difficult the meters are to use. Customers are complaining that they cannot get the machines to work or that they are too much of a hassle. Some stores are even offering change for the meters in an effort to keep their customers. The city did offer help for users when they were first resurrected, but now users are left unsure of how to use them.

More meetings are scheduled to decide the future of downtown parking. Hopefully, the city and the merchants will reach a decision that benefits both.

Luckily, parking is free when you visit SmithLaw since we are located in beautiful Lakewood Ranch, Florida.

Image credit: renee_mcgurk

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