VENICE, Fla. -- Even during the summer months, more people are now visiting downtown Venice. That's forcing the city to enforce parking regulations year round. Some shop owners say it's a sign that something needs to be done about parking.
With the snow birds gone, even in the middle of June it isn’t easy finding a space. That’s good for business, but if you park too long though you just may learn the hard way that enforcement is still in place.
At Cafe Venice, owner Kay Kropac says even in the summer months, business is now booming. "We are getting busier and busier every year. People are coming and staying longer. Venice has been discovered."
However, with more people downtown, there are fewer places to park. “Parking is a problem in downtown Venice…definitely."
In recent years, parking enforcement has been put on hold between Easter and Christmas. An announcement by the city this week revealed that the two, three, and five hours spots will be enforced year-round.
"The city has decided continuity and consistency is better than not really knowing when you are going to get a ticket." Kat Quast with Venice Main Street says it's a double edged sword. Business owners want spaces near them to open up, but they also don't like seeing their customers get a $25 ticket. "People get very incensed about getting a parking ticket, and saying they are never coming back to Venice. But every city has parking limitations."
Recently the Venice city council has been trying to come up solutions; from reverse angle parking spots to a garage. They’re even asking if business owners are willing to pay.
"Are you willing to chip in so we can do more for parking?" Venice Mayor John Holic says ideas like small parking lots with shuttle service or even a special taxing district have also been raised. "We need to think a little out of the box. Get creative with the financing and not look at difficult solutions but what is the simplest and quickest way to do it. We can build off of that as time goes on."
Many believe a garage with shops below will ultimately be the answer. "Look at it while the rates are cheap. You are going to need it eventually."
It’s a good problem to have. They’re just looking for a good solution. "Not only myself, but other business owners; we're all for it. Everybody sees we have a problem and we don't want to turn customers away."
So again if you are coming downtown this time of year, you will probably find a space. You just need to be really careful as to how long you can park there.