Jacksonville is not Happy…..with me


Jacksonville is not Happy…..with me

Update:  The city has revised the zoning and although its not perfect, it does go a long way to solving that parking/zoning issue.

OK, read all the postings here...

A downtown businessman has come back basically blaming the parking operators in Jacksonville for all the woes of the downtown area.  An operator has responded with links and facts basically hitting him below the waterline. 

Everyone seems to want to make things so complicated.

The businessman says that the city raised on street rates and fines based on a Shoupista model. From what I can see, they in fact didn’t.  What they did was raise the fees and fines and rates a bit, but didn’t raise the rates enough. More about this later.

As for the draconian (I just love that word —   FYI Draco in Ancient Greece use the death penalty for minor offenses) enforcement — giving a ticket for parking one inch too far from the curb, for instance, or giving a ticket for 15 minutes over the time limit on a meter — I ask the writer:  "Just how far from the curb is too far?  16 inches, 20 inches, 24 inches?  If you have a problem, get the law changed to a further number.  Don’t blame the enforcement officers? Draconian, balderdash.

As for signage, (parking is unmarked). My guess was that the city restricted signage for parking, and it turns out I was correct. Once again, the fickle finger of government control was ruling and the local businesses were being blamed.  I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why parking operators would voluntarily not put signage on their locations. 

My guess is that zoning issues haven’t been addressed either.  I may be wrong but I would bet that you can’t put a restaurant in an location that doesn’t have enough adjacent parking. I’m not going to do the research. If you want to disagree, bring me the links.

So what has happened in Jacksonville is that a piecemeal approach to parking policy has helped to hurt the downtown.  Shoup believes the following must be done, all or nothing. Doing part of it won’t work.

1. Price on street parking so that 15% of the spaces are always available. (This means that it must be priced MORE than off street parking.)
2. Take the money generated from parking rates and fines and send it right back into the neighborhood from whence it came…Set up a redevelopment district and fund it with the parking fees and let the world know it.
3. Remove parking zoning restrictions. Let existing buildings be used for whatever use irregardless of the number of available parking spaces. Free up all those empty buildings and let the free market decide on their best use. I"ll bet that in downtown Jacksonville you can’t put a loft apartment above a drugstore downtown, probably because there is no parking available. What a shame.

It seems that Jacksonville was able to have a hybrid of these concepts and unable to institute them all. So, problems continue.

Having the political will to cause major change is not easy. The police retirement fund isn’t going to like it if they lose their income from parking so they will oppose any changes. There are alternatives. Shoup suggests that the money from the rate "increases" go to the development district. This will keep the politicos at bay and although the money won’t be the same, there will be a lot to use for infrastructure and the like.  It will be more politically acceptable and I can see no reason why the downtown merchants wouldn’t hop on board immediately.

I know it sounds too simple — but why can’t Jacksonville install some signage pointing to parking ( both city owned and private), set rates in city garages are lower than on street (raise on street).  The local private firms will follow the rates — the free market does work.  The loss in off street revenue will be made up in increased volume.

My guess is that the operators in Jacksonville are feeling the pinch just as much as the businesspeople are. All they want to do is fill their garages.

The city of Jacksonville has changed its parking rules so people coming downtown can feed meters. The real question might be "Why do people coming downtown need to feed meters?" Why don’t they park in available off street space?  If its true that off street space is more expensive that on street, then fix the problem by raising on street rates.  People will flock to the off street lots and the parking problem in downtown Jacksonville will be solved. 

As for Draconian enforcement, I don’t subscribe to execution for parking violations. But maybe the regs need to be changed to give parking enforcement officers a bit more latitude and training in public relations and diplomacy.. Also, telling people that the money from their fees and fines are going into the new park, sidewalk, and signage might help. Folks don’t complain as much when they know that their money is being spent on something they can see and touch rather than disappearing into the "general fund."


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

5 Responses

  1. Jacksonville did finally change their downtown zoning code 2 years ago to eliminate the suburban parking requirements. It’s not perfect, but definitely an improvement;
    The Old Off-Street Parking Requirements
    were the same as in the suburbs;
    · Office = 4 per 1000 SF, · SF Home = 2 spaces. · Galleries, Museums, etc. = 1 per 500 SF, · Restaurants, Night Clubs, Taverns,Bars= 1 space for every 4 seats + 1 for every 2 employees, · MF Dwellings
    · Studio or 1BR 500 SF = 1 ¾ spaces, · 2 BR = 2 spaces, · Each additional BR = ¼ space
    The New Code eliminated any requirement in the core, and capped the number throughout downtown;
    · Central Civic Core District and
    Riverfront District – No parking
    required, except with Residential, Industrial, and Hotel Uses
    · All other districts = 50 % of existing minimum requirements, · Maximum off-street = existing minimum standards
    · 25% reduction in the maximum within
    700′ of ASE (transit credit), · Carpool and Vanpool Bonus, · Short Term Parking Space Credit, · Parking Plans required to participate in bonus programs

  2. Lol.
    JVH, I think you misunderstand our intentions in our downtown. We basically agree on almost every point.
    However, the parking situation which you described in your original post had very little resemblance to Jacksonville’s reality.
    As you correctly surmise, the actual recommendations which would constitute a shoup solution were never implemented. However, Shoup’s theory was used as a rationale for creating our recently overturned parking ordinances, by parties who had no interest in creating anything other than a hostage market for themselves.
    At present our city is at 40% availability of metered spaces, not 15%. Even a hardcore Shoupista would find this balance troublesome.
    The draconian laws were exactly what was changed, as you yourself have suggested.
    Basically the laws had created a situation where the greater majority of motorists were in violation of at least one ordinance in order to maximize the revenue produced from downtown end users.
    However, instead of believing in the “Build it and they will Come” Mantra, our local operators have been dependent of “Bleed them and they will Beg” in order to support their enterprises.
    Our city is installing smart meters, so that both time limits and rates can be adjusted easily and immediately as we bring more growth into the downtown.
    The ‘meter feeding’ aspect of our ordinance dealt mostly with the antique nature of our meters, and the lack of appropriate signage. For example, there was no visible difference between two meters, which while adjacent to each other had different time limits.
    The time limits varied from 30 minutes to 8 hours.
    Downtown Patrons, because of an illinterpreted enforcement policy were bound by the time limits of whatever meter they parked in front of. Until the driver got out of their cars, they had no idea whether they were allowed 1 hour or 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours at that particular meter.
    Our laws read that at the time of expiration of the meter, the motorist had to repark their car at least four blocks away…..which is basically the same thing as telling them to leave our small downtown area.
    So if two cars parked right next to each other, the person at the 30 minute time limit meter had to be back within that time and park 1/3 of a mile further away, hoping to have a meter with longer limits, whereas the person who parked at the meter next to them at the same time, depending on the meter could stay for up to 2 hours (or 8 hours) without having to leave.
    Because there was no way to change our antique meters to give them regularity until the installation of Smart Meters, it was decided that this was the best way to handle issues of fairness.
    Since we are well over the Shoup recommended 15% availability, (And still are, even after the relaxed laws took effect) no one anticipates it being a problem before we can install new meters in March of this year.
    Im sorry to tediously go into all of this detail, but perhaps the nuances of our decision making will provide additional data revolving around the process of center density oriented reformation.
    Reading your site has definitely given us a new crusade. That of demanding that fees collected within our city center be SPENT within our city center, and thats a tip we should all be able to value.
    This is an interesting site.
    Even if you did excoriate us before knowing the whole story.

  3. That means, I think, that on street prices are too high. THey should be lowered to bring the onstreet numbers to 15%. If you do so, the off street garages will be forced to lower their rates to pull folks back in. and so forth. Let the free market work. One of the things that needs to be done is to give the parking managers the authority the ability to change rates quickly to meet the requirements of demand. Most of the new laws (See Redwood City, CA) are related to giving the city parking managers such freedom and getting the politicians and merchants out of the loop.
    As for excoriating you…never — I simply read what is reported a comment. And I do make a lot of what I say up out of whole cloth. Of course there are nuances in every situation. However I do feel that often we get caught in the nuances and forget the big picture. If I have brought some focus, then my job is done.
    Keep up the good work
    PS, when the money comes back into the city center, be sure to promote the fact far and wide. Also, it may not be politicially feasable to make the change and get all the money, you may be forced to accept a part of it, or the “increase” after you get the program running and the free market working. Remember in Old Town Pasadena the money didn’t start flowing until the area was reviatlized and parking was full to overflowing. Then the parking fees went up and the cash flowed.

  4. The parking enforcement scumbags in Jacksonville are predatory pieces of crap that are on a power trip and enjoy their work a little too much. Probably because they were such hated weasels growing up that it’s the only job they could get satisfaction doing or be hired for. Until someone gets control over these guys, downtown Jacksonville will never be anything other than the crack-infested cesspool that it is. On a personal note I believe in karma (what goes around comes around). One day they will meet someone or something that will show them the meaning of unfair enforcement. They are the lowest fricking form of scumbag ever, crack whores are more respected… JIB

  5. As a follow up to my February 16 posting… The incompetent jerks that run parking enforcement in Jacksonville never stop amazing me. One of the reasons I took the time to post these messages was the absolute joy the meter Nazi took in writing my ticket. I paid my ticket the day I got it at the Tax Collector’s office on Forsyth Street (Feb 16th 2007) I have the canceled check. Now to further show the city of “Jerksonville’s” total incompetence in their management of downtown (are you listening Mayor). I received a collection letter from some collection company in New York called Law Enforcement Systems, Inc stating they can immobilize my vehicle at any time for not paying my ticket. I would love to sue the city for incompetence and just for being major A-Holes in a class action lawsuit and donate the money to some charity. I can tell you I will never spend another penny downtown, not for food, football, concerts or anything ever. And I work downtown and can tell you I “USED” to spend well over $100.00 per week not counting shows and sports. I will now go to Riverside, Beach Blvd, etc. Downtown can wither and die for all I care along with the flunkies that run downtown!!!

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