City considering free parking for ADA spots downtown

City Commissioners will consider a proposal during their July 20 meeting to make parking in officially signed ADA parking stalls free to those properly using the spaces.

Since the new multi-space kiosks were installed downtown this spring, city staff, members of the Parking Advisory Commission and downtown merchants have received “negative feedback regarding the inconvenient location of the new equipment for citizens with mobility or other physical impairments. Given the new machines are typically located as close to mid-block as possible, it was felt that the distance from many of the ADA parking spots to the pay stations and then onward to the desired businesses was too far to be considered reasonably located,” according to the staff report.

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The current configuration “is not likely out of compliance with ADA requirements,” but staff opted to bring the discussion to the PAC in May. The group, volunteers appointed by the City Commission, discussed the issue and the complaints regarding ADA accessibility. The group considered multiple options including replacing the old meters at each ADA parking stall, but that wasn’t preferred as it would void any benefits and savings from the new license plate reader enforcement technology the city recently purchased and implemented. 

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PAC members also said that anyone could use the Passport Parking smartphone app instead of using the pay stations.

The group decided to recommend to the City Commission that all officially signed ADA parking spots in the downtown parking district be free of charge.

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Currently, there is no time limit for those parking spots, but there is still a fee to park.

“This approach appears to be the most cost effective and reasonable solution considered,” according to the city staff report.

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Staff don’t know exactly how much revenue will be lost by providing the free parking in ADA spots, “given the antique nature of the old meters and their lack of ability to provide essential data,” but staff believes it’s the least cost option to resolve the issue at this point.