Florida Keys

Parking rates in Key West may rise to $3 an hour

Saying the current $2-an-hour rate is below market, City Commissioner Jimmy Weekley is sponsoring the parking rate increase plan, which the commission will vote on at its 6 p.m. Wednesday
Saying the current $2-an-hour rate is below market, City Commissioner Jimmy Weekley is sponsoring the parking rate increase plan, which the commission will vote on at its 6 p.m. Wednesday File Photo

Key West city leaders on Wednesday will consider a proposal to raise the parking rate a dollar to $3-per-hour in an effort to raise money for affordable housing and plans to reduce traffic congestion downtown.

Last year, Key West collected $6 million from the electronic parking pay stations and the several old-school meters that only take change left in Old Town. That figure doesn’t include parking fines.

Saying the current $2-an-hour rate is below market, City Commissioner Jimmy Weekley is sponsoring the parking rate increase plan, which the commission will vote on at its 6 p.m. Wednesday meeting at Old City Hall, 510 Greene St.

The revenues from the additional $1-per-hour “are needed to provide funding for specific unfunded needs of the city,” the proposed resolution states, starting with Key West’s affordable housing trust fund, which would collect 40 percent of the additional meter rates.

Earlier this year, the commission raided Key West’s affordable housing fund to pay a developer $12.5 million to lock down rents at the 157-unit Peary Court complex as affordable work force housing. The fund is fed from bed taxes.

Thirty-three percent of the new revenue stream would go to studying and installing new alternative transportation methods to reduce traffic congestion downtown, while the remaining 27 percent would go to the general fund.

Talk of parking increases in Key West raise hackles, as those who tend bars and serve food near Duval Street compete for parking with tourists and residents.

Last winter, city staff prepared to install pay stations around the county courthouse to make 147 new paid parking spots — a decision made years ago by the commission never acted on. But the idea to end free night and weekend parking there was so unpopular, commissioners abandoned it.

The courthouse plan could have meant $200,000-a-year in additional revenue, staff said.

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen

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