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Our Town with William Kelly: Palm Beach’s new parking plan ready for action

After years of discussion and study, a comprehensive plan to better manage the limited supply of parking spaces on the island appears to be ripe for implementation this season.

The seven-point plan, which was approved by the Town Council earlier this year, is scheduled for a final review before the council at 11 a.m. on Tuesday. The meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. in the public meeting chambers at Town Hall.

Topics will include a new resident parking decal program, an expansion of paid parking using the ParkMobile app, additional free half-hour parking spaces, improved parking enforcement, and new road signs to direct drivers to parking opportunities.

Two other parts of the plan – valet parking on Worth Avenue and South County Road and rideshare transit opportunities for residents – will be further explored at future council meetings, Town Councilman Lew Crampton said Friday.

Residents have named worsening traffic congestion and the shortage of available parking spaces during busy in-season months as two of the biggest drawbacks to life on the island.

Crampton is chairman of the council’s Business and Administrative Committee, which has been working for three years to address the town’s parking woes. Councilwoman Bobbie Lindsay also serves on the two-member committee, which recommended the comprehensive parking plan for council approval after months of discussion and input from residents and business groups.

In May, the council voted 4-1 to approve the seven-point plan, with Councilwoman Julie Araskog dissenting. Crampton said the plan will likely be rolled out in stages during the coming season, beginning as early as November. But that depends on the final council review.

He described the plan as “big” and “ambitious.”

“Together, these seven points will make an appreciable dent in the problem we have experienced here,” Crampton said. “It’s not perfect, but it will make a difference.”

According to a summary, the stated goals of the plan are uniform policies and consistent signage; policies tailored to meet community needs; data-driven decision making; best use of the parking inventory; and increased turnover of spaces.

The new resident parking decals would be available to all residents at a cost of $50 each, with a limit of two per residence. They will be renewed annually.

The decals will enable residents to use paid parking spaces without having to use the ParkMobile app. Their use will be time limited. The decals cannot be used to park in spaces designated for resident permit parking or parking placards.

If the full council agrees, the new decal program could be launched almost immediately, Crampton said.

Paid parking would be expanded in the town’s business district, from Barton Avenue to Hammon Avenue, using the ParkMobile app. All meters and kiosks have been removed. It will probably take 30 to 60 days to get the ParkMobile program fully installed, Crampton said.

Additional short-term parking spots in the town’s commercial districts will allow motorists to run quick errands without having to pay for a space, Crampton said.

The new signs will help eliminate confusion and bring order to the town’s new parking system, Crampton said. The signs will be posted in the commercial district between The Breakers and The Colony Palm Beach Hotel.

Getting the new signs installed will take time, Crampton said, noting that the council wants to see the design and make sure they are visually appropriate.

The town also is expanding the number of parking enforcement officers in the central business district to six and has increased the salary of those employees to boost retention, Crampton said.

Rove rideshare proposal

Last month, the council heard a presentation from the Long Island-based Rove rideshare company, which proposes to operate a fleet of 10 Teslas on the island.

The app-based business is similar to Uber or Lyft but free of charge. The company, which is based in Montauk, East Hampton and Sag Harbor, earns its revenue by selling advertising space on its vehicles, Rove co-owner Gianpaolo de Felice told the council at its Sept. 12 meeting.

The presentation received a cool reception from the council, with some members saying they’re concerned that the “commercialization” of the vehicles would not be a good fit for Palm Beach.

But Crampton said Rove’s all-electric rideshare fleet would help reduce the demand for parking spaces without contributing to air pollution.

The council agreed to revisit the proposal at its Nov. 14 meeting.

Circuit, a West Palm Beach-based rideshare program, already operates electric trollies in Palm Beach.

Other agenda highlights

In other business on Tuesday, the council is expected to:

  • Appoint three regular members and one alternate member to the Planning and Zoning Commission. The appointments will fill vacancies created by the expired terms of Rick Pollock, Marilyn Beuttenmuller, Jorge Sanchez and William J. Gilbane. Three of the four are eligible for reappointment; Pollock is not because he is termed out.
  • Consider waivers to the town code for construction dates, hours and noise limits for construction staging in the Lake Worth Lagoon in preparation for the 2023 dredging of the Port of Palm Beach inlet’s navigation channel.
  • Hear a report on the status of the town-wide utility undergrounding project.

October 10, 2023 Town Council Agenda 

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