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Drivers get a break on parking in Ybor City

The city hopes to give businesses a holiday boost and smooth parking problems when the Super Bowl comes to town.

By CHRISTOPHER GOFFARD

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 22, 2000


TAMPA -- Ybor City is giving meter-weary motorists a reprieve for the holiday season, and city leaders are considering whether to make it permanent.

The Tampa City Council voted unanimously Thursday to waive parking meter fees in Ybor, from Sunday through Wednesday, from now until the end of January. The meters still will be in effect from Thursday through Saturday, between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. Fees at the city parking garage will remain unchanged.

The move is meant to give a boost to businesses during the holidays, and to make parking easier for the masses in town for the Super Bowl in late January. Restaurants such as Ovo and Tropicana on E Seventh Avenue have complained that parking meters frighten away guests, and the city hopes to cultivate a steady stream of lunch visitors to the area.

"We're still at a fragile point in Ybor City," Fernando Noriega, the city's administrator of development, told the council.

City Council member Bob Buckhorn suggested they take it a step further -- abolish daytime meter and lot fees in Ybor altogether. "People don't want to pay $3 to park to go get a $6 lunch," Buckhorn said.

Council chairman Charlie Miranda, noting how the city has shepherded Ybor's growth along, agreed parking costs posed an impediment to continued growth. "We are holding down the same child we tried to raise and raise properly," Miranda said.

At Buckhorn's request, the council asked the city's legal department to draft an ordinance, to be heard in January, banning daytime fees at meters and city lots.

- Christopher Goffard can be reached at (813) 226-3337 or goffard@sptimes.com

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