SARASOTA-- The luxury of free parking in Downtown Sarasota's Palm Avenue garage will soon come to an end.
On Tuesday night, City Commissioners voted 3-2 to implement pay to park rates in the garage. For months, it has been free to park there.
"This should not be a profit-making operation for the city," said Sarasota resident Bob Frey, who uses the garage. "This should be something that is given to the people who are coming here as customers and employees and to keep the city thriving."
Paying to park in the garage won't cost you an arm and a leg. In fact, the first 90 minutes remain free. After that, it's about a dollar or two for each additional hour. The maximum amount you can pay is $16 after 11 hours.
Still, there are concerns among downtown business owners and their employees.
"If I didn't work here, that would be pretty reasonable, but I park here ten hours a day, so I'll have to find a different place to park," said Kendal Schanz, who works downtown.
Meaning, it could now be even harder to find parking on busy downtown streets.
"My feeling is that a lot of people who work on Main Street who park in the garage for free will go someplace else to park. Possibly on the streets. That will take away the parking we use for our customers," said Ron Soto of Soto Opticians.
Commissioner Paul Caragiulo and Mayor Shannon Snyder both voted against the rates. The Mayor told us over the phone that he feels the idea is a fiasco just like the downtown parking meters were. Those infamous meters were installed and later removed by the city, after facing months of pressure from downtown merchants and customers.