City Council addresses parking in SoHo

05/22/08 Mitch E. Perry
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The most popular destination spot for partying in Tampa is along South Howard Avenue in what is called the “SoHo” district. But its popularity is creating major parking problems in the area for residents and businesses.

At a workshop held at the Tampa City Council today, Council members weighed options on what to do to help out residents who consider the explosion of cars parked in their neighborhood, especially on weekend nights, to be a detriment to the community.

City Attorney Cathy Coyle said the city’s zoning code must deal with offsite parking for businesses. It currently only allows such parking locations 300 feet away – though there is a proposal to expand that it 1,000 feet. Another possibility is a residential parking plan, such as the case in Ybor City, which bans parking on streets except for local residents.

Coyle also mentioned increasing parking fines, adding parking meters or towing illegally parked cars.

Council member Linda Saul-Sena said the neighborhood has been begging for relief for years.

The city’s Parking Manager Jim Corbett, told Saul-Sena that although there were initial meetings on establishing a residential parking plan two years ago, it wasn’t until last fall that he heard from the neighborhood firmly looking to go into that direction; it would mean establishing firm boundaries as to what areas would be under that directive.

Councilwoman Mary Mulhern had several suggestions, such as using the parking garages of local businesses at night. Mulhern also endorsed the idea of giving residential parking permits to local residents and targeting any other cars.

Councilman Charlie Miranda said he didn’t want to take any potential remedy to SoHo parking off the table. But he was partial toward conducting a pilot program of choosing one block to install a residential parking plan.

Walter Crumbly is the president of the Courier City Oscawana Resident Homeowner Association. Living on South Westland Avenue, a street strongly affected by nonresidents parking, he had a lot of opinions of possible solutions to try to alleviate the parking problems. He didn’t think a private partnership with local grocery stores would work.

Crumbly endorsed the idea of a residential parking plan, but said simply ticketing those who park illegally isn’t a sufficient sanction.

The Council voted for a written report on the parking issues in South Tampa to be submitted within 30 days with proposals listed and appropriate timeframes to accomplish those proposals listed.

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Parking in SOHO

No one seemed to underscore the positive aspect of having all those people in SOHO. It's about the only part of Tampa that isn't comatose. At the same time, the City has approved all kinds of residential and commercial development in the area without providing any kind of parking. What about satellite parking with shuttles? Wouldn't that be preferable to just chasing people away via parking tickets and towing?