Winter Park’s Community Redevelopment Agency Board took a step toward improving the parking situation in the downtown area during its Nov. 13 meeting — earmarking $100,000 toward improving enforcement technology and evaluating the city’s parking codes.
Following a parking study by consultants Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc., Winter Park officials were told the city needs a second staff member to enforce parking codes along Park Avenue, because there is only one employee currently. The CRA Board instead took a different approach to fix the city’s perceived parking problems along the Park Avenue strip.
Board members reasoned improving the license plate scanning technology and revisiting the city’s parking codes was a better approach.
“I can’t support the additional personnel, because it’s just unfunded down the road,” Mayor and CRA Board Chair Steve Leary said.
“I’m not saying you have to do it with the one person – I’m saying I don’t want to spend CRA money on a person right now for a year to do this, because then it puts us in the same usurping business of robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Commissioner and CRA Board Member Sarah Sprinkel said.
That parking study period began this summer. Kimley-Horn consultant Brett Wood said although there may not be a numbers-based lack of parking, there appears to be the perception of a parking problem, which is still damaging to the city because it affects the overall experience on Park Avenue and whether people visit.
“That’s not to say there isn’t a real parking problem during big events and peak conditions in the future that would necessitate something different, but we’re battling perception, reality, behavior and all of those types of things,” Wood said.
The city’s parking situation led Kimley-Horn to create what they call a problem statement — a summarization of what’s motivating a parking strategy.
That problem statement was divided into three parts: insufficient turnover of prime parking to support equitable access to downtown merchants; utilization of parking resources; and policies and practices do not align with community expectations.
The consultants also created a series of 12 different strategies that a municipality can choose when looking to improve their parking situation. These ranged from wayfinding — giving residents and visitors an app or electronic sign that can potentially tell them where parking spots are located and how many — to modernizing parking enforcement — using license plate readers to swiftly carry out enforcement to promote compliance with signs and rules in place.
Other strategies included instituting a centralized valet system, building more parking areas, starting a downtown trolley system that transport residents to remote parking locations or simply doing nothing.
Of the 12 strategies, two satisfied all three criteria identified in the problem statement: improving the parking employee program and paid parking.
Improving the employee parking program would ensure that city and business employees would have their own place to park — moving them away from competing for public spaces with residents, Kimley-Horn Vice President Stephen Stansbery said.
A graduated fine structure will be brought back to the City Commission for consideration at a later date.