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Old November 21st, 2007, 04:41 AM   #1
Quegiebo
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Parking crunch

Parking crunch

By EMILY NIPPS, Times Staff Writer

Published November 16, 2007


The valet-parked cars of Bern's diners line up along S Howard Avenue.
"Parking is a premium, no doubt," said security officer Charles Spicola,
who was watching over the parking lot on a Saturday night. City
Council member Linda Saul-Sena has a quick fix for the problem: Walk.


SOHO -- Amid the fun and glamor of South Howard Avenue's nightlife, drivers are idling, circling and cursing.

Side streets are jammed with trucks, Hummers and fancy sports cars, all vying for that rare free space. Owners of businesses closed for the night are monitoring their tiny private lots with crossed arms and threats to tow. Lawyers have gotten involved.

Parking is increasingly a pain for anyone visiting, working or living in SoHo and other areas of South Tampa. Yet there's little relief in sight, despite City Council discussions, public complaints, and a growing number of restaurants and storefronts along and around the 2-mile stretch on Howard.

Those who frequent SoHo are realizing the sad truth:

Valet parking is the necessary norm, even for Irish pubs and casual restaurants.

Who's to blame? No one seems to claim responsibility for the problem.

Many blame the restaurants and clubs, which seem to have far fewer parking spaces than available seats. But as far as the city can tell, the businesses are in compliance, said Gloria Moreda, manager of the city's Land Development Coordination office.

The city requires bars and restaurants to have off-street parking that equals one space for every four people of their maximum capacity. Businesses that share buildings or strip centers may share the same spaces in certain instances.

Some restaurant and club owners point to corporate offices and condominiums with large numbers of employees or residents.

Parking requirements depend on the type of business or dwelling, but one restaurant owner thinks the city should monitor office buildings more closely.

"I think the city needs to look at all businesses with the same scrutiny as they do with restaurants and clubs," said Steve Finelli, who owns Tijuana Flats on Platt Street and constantly battled a neighboring process serving company for parking until it vacated a few months ago. "It's very easy, when things go wrong, to point the finger at us."

'I'd hate to live here'

Ceviche, the popular tapas restaurant that has valet-only parking, has been in a yearslong legal battle with the Bayshore Royal Condominium Association over the number of spaces it can use.

The condo association gives Ceviche five spaces, but the restaurant sued, saying it should get 27. The bitterness has spilled into a countersuit in which the condo company is looking to terminate Ceviche's lease for a portion of the restaurant's space.

Ceviche isn't going anywhere, owner Gordon Davis promised this week.

South Tampa residents and daytime businesses have every right to complain as well.

Those closest to "Restaurant Row," as some call Howard, often find themselves at war with trespassers ignoring their "No Parking" signs. The narrow residential streets are inevitably clogged with cars on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

"I'd hate to live along here," said John Benton, who owns Other Side Antiques on Howard and has a handful of parking spaces. "Emergency vehicles could never get down these roads. We're always saying we'd hate to see what happens if a house catches on fire at 11 o'clock on a Friday night. You'll just have to watch it burn."

Tampa Fire Rescue spokesman Capt. Bill Wade said the fire marshal's office recently met with city officials to discuss congestion "issues" specific to the SoHo area. As long as people are heeding parking signs and following city codes, he said, fire trucks and ambulances are capable of navigating the narrow streets.

Even the patrons, the street cloggers themselves, seem annoyed with the situation.

"There have been a lot of nights I feel like giving up and going home," said Matty Nguyen, recently lounging at MacDinton's. "I usually resort to the valets, but I shouldn't have to pay just to park at a bar for a few hours."

Simple solutions

Several complainers have turned to the City Council for a solution.

Member Linda Saul-Sena has one: Walk.

"When you're in a real city, walking is just what you do, and you don't think twice about it," she said. "What I would recommend is that people change their expectations and start looking for other ways to get where they want to go."

Saul-Sena said she realizes that mass transit in Tampa isn't ideal, and the City Council has mulled over the idea of a "faux trolley" that will shuttle nighttime patrons from a parking lot to their clubs or restaurants.

But the current trolley bus system is being scaled back because of Hillsborough Area Regional Transit budget cuts. The city is looking at fitting it into an eventual grand-scale mass transit plan - in 2012 or beyond.

For now, Saul-Sena says, the solution is up to the potential parkers. Too many individuals are driving their cars to meet up for a cocktail or dinner, and too few people are carpooling.

"I would encourage people to be strategic and plan their night around walking to several locations in one night, rather than drive from one place to another," she said.

Tijuana Flats' Finelli is actually trying to get drivers to come back, since so many were turned off by the lack of parking spaces when the restaurant first opened. It has gotten better, he said, though he's waiting to see what happens when new tenants move into the office building next door.

He has learned his lesson.

"I'm hoping to open a couple more restaurants soon," he said, "but I'm going to stay as far away from South Tampa as possible."

Emily Nipps can be reached at nipps@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3431.

Five tips to avoid parking in SoHo

1 Walk: If you live in South Tampa, consider putting on comfortable shoes and footing the half-mile or so.

2 Carpool: Plan ahead with friends and travel together.

3 Taxi: Keep taxi phone numbers stored in your cell phone for quick access or call ahead to have a driver waiting when the bars close.

4 Schmooze: Make friends who live in SoHo and park in their driveways. Then walk to your favorite spot.

5 Act fast: You can ride the trolley, but tonight or Saturday only. (HARTline's Hyde Park/S Howard trolley will cease after its last 11 p.m. stop Saturday because of low ridership and budget cuts.

http://www.sptimes.com/2007/11/16/Ci...g_crunch.shtml
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Old November 21st, 2007, 06:36 AM   #2
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It's really tragic that people in this city are too myopic too see that there is an alternative to the lifestyle this community has chosen.
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Old November 21st, 2007, 01:15 PM   #3
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This happens everywhere . . . that's why the country is filled with parking lots - why doesn't the city buy some land (like near where they let them build a 3 story public storage building) and build a garage? At least Greco understood that
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Old November 21st, 2007, 02:21 PM   #4
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You know, I just don't understand the whole burns valet parking thing... They just finished building a freaking parking garage for Burns (and their future hotel/condos), which is where the articles photo was actually taken from!

For the other areas, I somewhat agree. My only reservation is that the city should not be holding the risk for building parking garages for private businesses. For example, if SOHO goes out of favor and goes downhill, the city would be stuck with $8-$25 million of debt from building a parking garage that may not be used.

The private businesses down there should create a coalition and raise the funds/bonds needed to secure land and build a garage. I would support that 100%.
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Old November 21st, 2007, 03:34 PM   #5
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The Publix Greenwise store may help out a bit... They could easily charge a few bucks for parking there after the store closes. As I remember it should have a fair number of spaces.
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Old November 21st, 2007, 03:40 PM   #6
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I agree, I think the Publix store will help.

Maybe if the city can solve the parking crunch, that maybe a good trolley system can be created. Not like the s**t Route 98 that was eliminated.
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Old November 21st, 2007, 04:54 PM   #7
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There really is sufficient parking. It's just that much of it is operated by the same person(s).

For example, there's a lot off of Platt between Howard and Moody that has about 30 spaces and used to be free. Now it's either roped off during peak hours or charges $10 or $20.
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Old November 21st, 2007, 06:03 PM   #8
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That is ridiculous. All these people care about is making a profit rather than allowing good parking. Special events, I can understand. But on a daily basis, that's foolish.
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Old November 21st, 2007, 06:27 PM   #9
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I live half a block off howard. In the last year I have had 3 cars towed off my front lawn. They actually park their car entirely on what is left of my grass. I had one guy curse me out for doing it, but who the "F#$@" is stupid enough to park on someone's lawn??

The other problem is, the people that go to Mac Dinton's. The trailer parks must be empty on Friday night's. I find my landscaping full of beer bottles and trash every Sat morning. For some reason these people feel its necessary to scream at the top of their lungs when they are going back to their car at 3:30 in the morning. Last weekend they were shooting off fire works right in front of the house when the bar closed.
Most of the problems aren't really the bar's fault, in fact MacDinton's started sending someone out the morning, after their busy nights, to go through the neighborhood and pick up trash.

If people would just use common sense, most of the problems could be avoided.
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Old November 22nd, 2007, 12:02 AM   #10
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Agreed
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Old November 23rd, 2007, 06:31 PM   #11
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If businesses were smart that would band together and offer trolley service up and down Howard. There is nothing more annoying than having a nice dinner at Mangrove's, and then want to have some dessert at Bern's, or maybe meet up with people for Sangria at Ceviche, and then head to MacDinton's to shoot some pool or throw some darts, etc..and have to walk on a HOT summer evening, or try to drive and park and congest the roads, or take a cab who tries to charge you each $3 per person. If the businesses would band together and togethr operate this type of service, all of them would reap the benefits of people STAYING in the area and PATRONIZING multiple establishments.
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Old November 23rd, 2007, 08:45 PM   #12
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Yeah, but that's the key. Getting all the businesses together to fund the trolley. The previous thread about the SOHO trolley outlined that exact problem.
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Old November 24th, 2007, 04:25 AM   #13
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Cities often build public garages in well developed areas - that keeps them developed. . . like the city will allow a private developer to build a decent sized garage anywhere
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Old November 24th, 2007, 01:34 PM   #14
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You brought up a good point, if a couple of garages were built, people might complain that it looks ugly or it destroys the charm of Hyde Park/SOHO.
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Old November 24th, 2007, 06:03 PM   #15
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The city talked about building a garage in SOHO about 9 or 10 years ago. They were also going to give it a new street scape with wider sidewalks and landscaping. They have put up nice street lights since then, but thats it. Mean while Ybor has gotten two parking garages and new street scape. The city has been questioned about the garage over the last 2 years, but now they say they don't have the means to build it.
The city should have encouraged Bern's and Publix to build an extra floor on their garages for pubic use, in return let Bern's have the residential element they wanted(which the neighborhood shot down), and give publix some kind of incentive(can't think of a good one right now)
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Old December 1st, 2007, 04:24 PM   #16
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Not about SoHo, but still about parking- in Channelside.

Residential Parking in Channelside District

November 20, 2007 - On November 15, 2007 the Tampa City Council approved ordinance changes to allow for the establishment of a residential parking boundary in the Channelside District. This includes property addresses listed in the 100 and 200 block of North 12th Street, as well as the 100 and 200 block of South 12th Street.

To accommodate all short-term visitor parking, residential business parking and residential parking, the City of Tampa has installed a sign package that allows for three-hour visitor maximum parking from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. No permit or decal is required to park in the district during these hours.

Each residential address within the established boundary is eligible for one free residential parking permit and one free residential guest-parking permit. Should a residential address not have any designated off-street parking associated with the property, the residential address will be eligible for a second free residential parking permit. Proper display of the residential and residential guest permit will enable the resident or guest to parK on the street free of time-limited restrictions.

Each business address within the established boundary is eligible for a minimum of four free residential business parking permits to be utilized for employee and customer parking needs. Proper display of the residential business permit will enable the business resident to park on the street during the hours of 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, free of additional time-limited restrictions.

For further inquiry regarding the Channelside Residential Parking Program including information on how to apply for your residential parking permit, please contact the City of Tampa Parking Division at 813-274-8445 or visit us on the web.

http://www.tampagov.net/appl_tampa_a...ReleaseID=4508
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Old December 1st, 2007, 04:32 PM   #17
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Sounds great, but is there actually enough space to be parking up the roads like that?
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