Parking meters downtown could net Delray $3 million a year

Delray Beach wants to nix free parking and add meters to its 3,000-plus city-owned spots downtown. (Melanie Bell / The Palm Beach Post)

 

DELRAY BEACH — A plan to place parking meters at more than 2,000 free spots in downtown Delray Beach could net the city more than $3.15 million a year.

City leaders are mulling over the adding smart meters, which would charge a fluctuating rate based on location and demand, a concept called “surge pricing”.

The city commission heard a brief pitch Thursday to place the meters downtown, but the lengthy discussion that was anticipated was pushed to a later date.

» READ: Shhhh! Five secret (and free) places to park in downtown Delray Beach

If the city opts for the lowest rates,  it’s expected to net $894,000 per year, assistant city manager Karen Gardner-Young said. If it charges the highest rates, the city is projected to make $3.15 million per year.

The specific rates per hour weren’t shared, and commissioners made no decisions.

The cost of street parking along Atlantic Avenue between Swinton Avenue and the Intracoastal — downtown’s busiest stretch — would cost the most. Prices would likely drop the further visitors park from Atlantic Avenue.

Parking along Atlantic Avenue west of Swinton Avenue  likely would remain free, Gardner-Young said.

“We want to encourage development there,” she said.

The city owns 3,277 parking spots in downtown, 727 of which are inside two parking garages.

The parking garages currently charge a $5 flat fee after 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Seven-hundred spots along the beach are already metered, but would become smart meters with charges that fluctuate based on time of day.

The remaining spots in downtown are currently free for 8- or 2-hour parking.

More than 400 parking spots sit west of Swinton Avenue, many of them at the Delray Beach Public Library and City Hall. They are rarely used, a city parking study notes.

On Friday and Saturday nights during season, Atlantic Avenue parking is almost always filled the parking study reports. City leaders want to encourage more turnover there.

Other cities in Palm Beach County charge up to $3 per hour for parking, said , assistant city manager Dale Sugarman.

But the city won’t shy away from hiking that price to more than $3 for Atlantic Avenue, Commissioner Shelly Petrolia said at a June meeting.

City commissioners budgeted about $3.7 million to buy smart meters, license plate readers and a smartphone application needed for the parking plan.