Parking clash in Gainesville, Florida

| April 8, 2013

Who should pay more for parking, owners or renters? Homeowners shouldn’t have to pay to park a car on the street in front of their own house at all, Frank Green told The Gainesville Sun late last month.

Abandoned parking lot

Parking permits in Gainesville are issued for such low prices that canny property owners are making money on arbitrage. Prices are set to go up – but renters will bear the brunt of the increase. Via cdsessums; licensed under Creative Commons.

Green, a native of the University Park neighborhood in Gainesville, FL, was just one of several residents upset by the debate surrounding proposed rate increases for parking permits available through the city’s residential parking program, which governs eight residential parking zones. Student housing for the University of Florida, which boasts almost 50,000 students, heavily represents some of those zones.

Homeowners have raised concerns about cases involving area residents who obtain parking permits with the sole intention of selling them to non-residents. Many suspect the buyers to be affiliated with the university and interested in finding cheaper alternatives to the higher priced campus parking permits, which run anywhere between $150 and $1,140 annually. In contrast, permits for on-street parking in each of the eight zones currently cost $19.50 per year. Anyone purchasing one of those permits could easily resell it for a tidy profit.

Some areas, such as those immediately adjacent to campus, are more vulnerable to such fraud. For instance, in 2011, 944 permits were sold in zone 1, which offers 394 parking spaces, says staff at the city’s Community Development Committee (CDC). But in University Park and areas farther from campus, there are a total of 947 parking spaces but only 154 permits were sold for those areas.

faculty/staff permit hangtag

Putting a price tag on parking in college towns like Gainesville can be tricky, especially due to the combination of poor students and the relatively affluent adults they share space with. Via myparkingpermit.com.

The proposed rate increases will hopefully alleviate the pressure on those areas where demand is higher than supply, said City Commissioner Randy Wells, speaking at the CDC meeting where the changes were considered. He, along with commissioners Yvonne Hinson Rawls and Thomas Hawkins, recommended:

  • Parking permits of $20 per year for homeowners, who have the option of purchasing a three-year parking permit for $60.
  • Parking permits of $50 per year for renters in most parking zones.
  • Parking permits of $100 per year for renters in zones near the university where the number of permits sold far exceeds the number of available spaces.

For Robert Pearce, who owns rental homes in the area, the increases were biased. “You’re raising the price for people who don’t own their homes by 500 percent,” he told The Gainesville Sun. “You’re increasing the prices for people who own their homes by zero.”

But for Hunt Davis, a longtime resident of University Park, even the fifty-cent increase for homeowners was too much. “The city shouldn’t treat all these parking zones the same,” he told The Gainesville Sun.

While debate is likely to continue, each side might take comfort in the proposed increased in the number of parking attendants, which the CDC recommended doubling from the current three positions to six. At least there will be more staff to handle complaints and issue tickets.

empty parkbench

Every pedestrian in Central Florida is crowded around this UF parkbench. Via cdsessums; licensed under Creative Commons.

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Category: Education, Parking

About the Author ()

Cielo Lutino is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn, NY. She has written for such publications as the L Magazine and Portland Monthly, and her literary nonfiction has appeared in journals such as the Los Angeles Review and Cold Mountain Review.

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