Sensible Parking

Until the recent hike in parking fees from $1 to $1.50 per hour the city was paying $340k per year to collect $440k per year in parking meter revenue!  Lanier Parking Systems of FL, Inc. (an Atlanta based company) reads and maintains the parking meters.  Lanier also collects payments and issues parking violation tickets.  Parking revenues (mostly from parking tickets) averaged $680k so Lanier gets half.  This is throwing money away!  The city owns all the parking meters.  I spoke with the city’s Human Resources manager and it’s possible to have city employees take care of this instead of contracting it out.  Right now the city is paying ALL Lanier’s bills including office space, utilities, accounting fees, incentive management fee (!?!) etc which could be saved by doing this in house.  These are fees that are above and beyond employee wages and benefits which add up to about $300k per year which the city could spend somewhere else.  Or maybe not raise taxes so much.

Lanier’s yearly contract expires in 2016.   The city is planning on extending this contract since they have no plans to bid it out.  The front desk personnel at city hall can take payments for tickets and the city has extra office space available at the utility building on Dixie Highway.  It might make more sense to only run the meters between 6 pm and 2 am instead of the current 18 hours a day.  It would be a boost to the small businesses on Wilton Drive by giving people an incentive to shop longer and have a spontaneous coffee or lunch.

empty parking spots

Do we really need to pay someone to read the meters at 11 am on a Wednesday when I took this photo?

Take a look at how the $340k we give to Lanier is being spent.

Lanier Budget 2015

Here is the full Lanier contract:  LanierParkingSystemofFlorida,Inc.

Here is the amended Lanier contract:  LanierParkingSystemofFlorida,Inc.AmendmenttoAgreement

The city has lost several prime parking spaces on Wilton Drive in 2015.  Rumor’s bar was allowed to get rid of 6 parking spaces to expand their seating into the parking lot shared by other businesses.  Was this because one of the owners of Rumors sits on the city’s Economic Task Force?  He has also been in charge of the Planing and Zoning Board for the past decade.  Many residents think he is getting special treatment.

*** In retaliation for writing about this, Nick Berry – the owner of Rumor’s bar and Courtyard Cafe Restaurant lied and told the police I was causing trouble at his restaurant and had 3 uniformed police officers come to my home to tell me I would be arrested for trespassing if I went back to his businesses.  This guy spent a decade behind bars for massive drug running and he controls the cops like puppets.  This is dangerous. ***

Car parking spaces have been turned into motorcycle parking spaces which did not need to be done.  Over a dozen motorcycle parking spaces can be created on Wilton Drive without taking up any existing car spaces.  I’ve been suggesting this for 3 years now.

The city runs out of parking on Friday and Saturday nights – especially during the tourist season.  The city is paying about $30k per parking space to build more parking lots for 20 or so cars at a time every couple of years.  The city needs a 200 or 300 space parking garage which will cost $15k per space and will be located between city hall and NE 21st Court.  We need to plan for our city’s future parking needs when retail space on Wilton Drive becomes fully occupied including new restaurants and bars.