DELRAY BEACH — City leaders set the framework Monday for a parking transformation in downtown Delray Beach, including eliminating free parking along Atlantic Avenue, installing smart meters that alert drivers to available spaces and getting rid of the age-old penalty of “booting” cars.
As the long-discussed plan takes shape, however, problems with smart meters already are looming. Even after several discussions, the city commission hasn’t decided what it will charge for parking, whether there will be time limits or how they’ll strengthen what is now a weak enforcement system.
Those decisions have caused a stir among commissioners and the public.
“It’s problematic because we’ve tried to appease too many groups of people,” Mayor Cary Glickstein said of the parking system that hasn’t even rolled out yet.
The commission agreed Monday to spend $725,000 on smart parking meters for the downtown. The meters will have the ability to read license plates and feed information into regulatory parking system, managed by an outside contractor.
It is similar to the parking system used in downtown West Palm Beach, where meters can be fed by mobile app.
The city also took steps to change decades-old ordinances that will allow the commission, rather than city staff, to set the price per hour and time limits for downtown parking.
The commission aims to place meters along East Atlantic Avenue between Swinton Avenue and the beach, as well as intersecting streets one block north and south of The Ave.
There would be a two-hour time limit that would be a headache to enforce, city commissioners said.
If a patron came to Atlantic Avenue in the morning and spent an hour and a half there, then returned in the evening and nabbed a spot on the same block, they likely would be ticketed once they exceeded the 2-hour limit. The smart meter system technology system can’t distinguish between a parking offender, and a return visitor.
That could force the city to eliminate the parking time limits. Those details will be ironed out at a future meeting.
The city will soon prohibit private companies from “booting” cars in downtown, commissioners decided.
Once the smart meter tech is installed, private owners will have the option to partner with the city and place meters on their lots as well. The private owners will keep the parking revenue, and the city will monitor the lots and keep any citation revenue.