Jay Boodheshwar, Deputy Town Manager, met with the Civic Association Transportation Committee this week and Committee Chairman Jim Weiner, a Civic Association Director, set the agenda for the main topic of discussion: parking.
Mr. Boodheshwar described a new internal Town staff parking committee to more efficiently deal with the hot topic. The town committee meets monthly and is made up of the following departments: Police, Public Works, Finance, and Planning and Zoning. Mr. Boodheshwar said they have already made over 40 decisions as a committee this year.
A big project the committee is working on is a complete inventory of the entire town for each parking space. The project will be completed in January and will update their GIS mapping system. This will help the town committee be more efficient in their work.
The Park Mobile program is one result of the committee and that starts Monday, November 9.
The Civic Association committee raised a number of issues about the inconsistency of regulations for parking around town.
Sally Kimbell, a Civic committee member and owner of Classic Collections, said that her customers are so confused about the parking on Royal Poinciana Way and Sunset Avenue near her shop that Ms. Kimball pays 2-10, $50 parking tickets a month for her customers.
Currently the Town collects about $1 million in revenue from parking meters each year and $3 million in parking fines.
“Inventory and regulation are the biggest issues with parking,” said Mr. Boodheshwar. “We are taking a more detailed approach now and doing all we can to avoid unintended consequences.”
Most don’t think of what happens when regulations are changed from one hour to two hours or when changes are made to parking spots near the beach.
“Residents and businesses can lose parking availability if that isn’t considered.” said Mr. Boodheshwar. "Business employees and beach patrons get very creative when regulations change."
One future option proposed during the meeting is called Demand-Responsive Parking using smart-meters. The Town staff is looking into this tech solution.
The meters are part of a network and keep track of each parking spot. Drivers can find available spots using the system on their smartphone. The meters will not only let you pay with a credit or debit card but also pay with your smartphone or an 800#.
The system can automatically adjust parking rates based on supply and demand, which means you could pay anywhere from nothing (15 minutes of free parking for a quick stop at a shop) or $0.25 to $6.00 an hour depending on how many free spaces there are.
Those rates are determined with the aid of some sensors that keep a constant watch on parking spaces, which also means you'll be able to check for free spaces in an area on your phone or your computer before you even leave the house.
If you need more time, you won't have to go to your parking spot and feed the meter, you'll be able to update and pay more for your parking from anywhere via smartphone or the 800#.
Ultimately, with rapid growth in West Palm Beach and a finite supply of parking in the Town of Palm Beach.