St. Augustine Got it backwards…


St. Augustine Got it backwards…

But they are correcting the problem. The City of St Augustine, FL, built a parking garage to service downtown. They are charging $1.25 to park there. On street prices are $.50.  Where do you think people are going to park.

The problem was that the city didn’t have a way to collect much more since the existing parking meters didn’t take anything more than quarters and asking a person to put in six quarters was not in the cards.

So in the past year, the garage lost about a quarter of a million dollars. The city says that’s OK since the difference is made up by tax money (Don’t get me started on this one.) However the other problem is that the original idea of getting cars off the street, lowering congestion, etc, didn’t happen. For some reason, people parked in the cheaper more convenient spaces before they parked in the more expensive garage. DUH!

So the city has replaced its meters and is raising on street pricing to $1.50, keeping the garage at $1.25.  My guess is that this will help substantially. However we won’t know if the $1.50 works until it goes into effect. It might be too much, not enough or it might be the magic Goldilocks number.

Cities planning garages to pull cars off the streets need to think about how to attract parkers to the new monoliths. They had a couple of years during the garage planning and construction to take care of the on street issue.

At least they have made the fix now, and good for them.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

5 Responses

  1. The garage “saga” in St Augustine has been going on for at least the 20 years that I’ve been involved in this business, you could fill an entire issue of your mag with all the twists and turns of the story. They finally got it built a year or so ago, but their original operating concept was that the tourists would use it and ride the shuttle into town and the employees would park in the lots closer in. So not only did they have the pricing policy backwards, they also had the operating plan backwards.
    I will say that it is a nice garage and using it makes a trip to that town much more enjoyable.

  2. Higher parking fees debut
    After Dec. 10, parking around the plaza won’t be free
    Publication Date: 11/29/07
    Residents and visitors, enjoy your last days of free parking around St. Augustine’s downtown plaza because parking meters charging $1.50 an hour will be installed next week.
    Twelve solar-powered parking meters will be placed around the plaza starting Tuesday and the city’s pilot program of charging $1.50 an hour for parking will begin Dec. 10, said Mark Litzinger, city comptroller.
    City staff traveled to several cities, including Fort Lauderdale and Savannah, to research high-tech parking meters before designing one for St. Augustine.
    The end product is a large machine that accepts many types of payment such as debit and credit cards and $1 bills.
    The meters also will take prepaid credit cards from the city, dubbed Park Now, that have a 50 cents per hour rate. This card is aimed at locals and may be purchased at the city’s Financial building, Litzinger said.
    For the first two weeks of the pilot program, two city employees will be available to answer questions on how to use the meters, which can look overwhelming, but are for the most part self-explanatory.
    After straightening some of the program’s kinks, the new meters will extend to all of downtown.
    Parking would then cost a $1.50 an hour, where it now ranges from free to $1 an hour throughout the city, except for those who use the Park Now cards.
    The pilot program is the beginning of the city’s goal to make the $20-million Visitor Information Center parking garage have the cheapest parking rate at $1.25 an hour.
    “The parking program is trying to give incentive to tourists to use the garage and not drive all around town looking for parking,” Litzinger said.
    New Meters
    # Dec. 10 is the beginning of the city’s pilot program of 12 new parking meters installed around the downtown plaza.
    # Parking will then jump from free to $1.50 an hour.
    # The new meters will also take prepaid credit cards from the city, dubbed Park Now, that have a 50 cents per hour rate. This card is aimed at locals and can be purchased at City Hall’s financial building on Bridge Street.
    # If a person does not feed the meters, they will receive a warning and then a ticket during the month of December. The city will go easy on drivers during December while they get used to the new fee.
    Click here to return to story:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~end article~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Never the less, the City has a Master Transportation Plan with an integrated approach to solving its problems. Its not easy being a small town of about 12,000 residents who play host to about 6 million tourists and 1200 seasonal college students a year. But we try.
    The saga will continue.

  3. I haven’t visited St Augustine in some time, and parked on King St, exited my car with my grandaughter after unloading a stroller and attaching diaper bag, etc. Walked away from my car toward George St, not seeing a parking meter, signage of any kind, no visible “meter” in the direction I walked, and of course came back to find a lovely yellow envelope on my dashboard. It’s not like I can’t afford to pay the parking fees, or the ticket, I have more than enough money to pay the fees, and certainly would have had I seen the meter!
    My question is this – – how are people supposed to know they’re supposed to pay a fee if they can’t see any indication there is a fee???? I looked for the meter when I came back, very angry to find my lovely yellow envelope, and finally seen a blue box 4-5 cars behind where I was parked. I didn’t pass it on my way to King St, and saw no other signs at all. How many tickets do you issue a day to unknowing visitors that have no clue the meters exist either? I’m sure you’ll make your millions back very quickly that way!
    I think notices posted near the parking spots are needed, if only in fairness to visitors and others, like myself, who have no idea how the system works. My grandaughters ice cream turned out to cost me just under $20!
    Not happy, not likely to “visit” again any time soon,
    Veronica Deli

  4. I live in Jacksonville and have parked my car before in the garage. We had friends in from out of town and decided to ride motorcycle on Saturday. Due to the recent afternoon Florida thunderstorms we decided to get there early and park our motorcycles in the garage for the afternoon and walk the streets. to our surprise when we went to enter the garage the sign said no motorcycles allowed. Is the city trying to discourage motorcycle riders or is there another reason for banning us from the garage. I would be willing to pay the same rate as a car if I was allowed to park.

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