Riverside Avondale Preservation

“RAP is following this issue, and will be sending a letter to DIA to request that key constituents from the neighborhoods be engaged before deciding what parking solutions might be best for the merchants, residents, and visitors for Five Points or other commercial districts in Riverside and Avondale. The question of who manages those are secondary to the details about the merits and impacts of each aspect of the program, of which there was little detail in the proposal.

We are aware that the DIA directed Tim Haas and Associates to do a parking study in 2018, which mainly focused on downtown, but included focus groups in the surrounding neighborhoods of Riverside Avondale, San Marco and Springfield. That report was read out the DIA in June, but has not been read out or discussed with the neighborhoods, and we feel that is also an important step in the process.

RAP welcomes a serious conversation about how the DIA can help with parking solutions that fit the needs of our constituents, and we feel strongly those impacted need to be a part of those conversations.”

Warren Jones Executive Director

Elite Parking Services of America’s parking privatization proposal for downtown would also include the company managing parking in Riverside’s Five Points. According to a copy of the proposal obtained by The Jaxson, current free on-street parking in the district could be replaced with paid on-street parking spaces.

RAP Board Chair Nancy Powell would later follow this statement provided to The Jaxson, with this letter to DIA CEO Lori Boyer on October 25, 2019:

“As a follow up to our letter from last week, RAP has considered the issue further, and requests that the DIA take Riverside Avondale out of the proposal altogether. We have seen that San Marco has clearly requested to be removed, and we agree that the core neighborhoods outside of the downtown area have a distinctly different character and issues, and should be separated out from the downtown parking proposal, to be taken up at a future time.

This is not to say we are not open to discussions and avenues for programs and new technologies that would fit the parking and transportation needs of our commercial areas and nearby residential streets. However, as we said earlier, we would absolutely need the merchants and residents to be engaged in identifying the key focus areas, and in any detailed solutions. That effort should not be conflated with downtown parking garages or downtown metered parking. In addition, should paid metered parking be a supported option, a critical discussion would be on where any new revenues would go, i.e. would they come back to the neighborhoods.

The Tim Haas parking study did not include a quantitative, capacity or demand analysis (like it did with downtown) for the neighborhoods. They did just one focus group (on short notice and not well publicized) where approximately 30 people attended. In 2014, The Planning Department worked with RAP and commissioned a parking study which covered the Shoppes of Avondale, and Park and King, but it did not include Five Points.”

The Lesson

The City of Tampa Parking Division offers single on-street pay stations per block in downtown. Payment options include meters and through ParkMobile App.Tampa is an example of a municipality being able to integrate modern technology into its parking division without privatization. Benefits associated with municipal or private management of public parking are worthy of discussion with community being a part of the decision making process.

While a conversation concerning improving parking management in downtown may have its merits, the roll out of this proposal highlights the importance of early community engagement. Neither Riverside or San Marco suffer from the same economic ailments that face downtown. While it may require letting go of traditional reins of power, proactive and early community engagement significantly increases the likelihood of effective, creative and practical solutions that will be widely accepted.

Elite Parking Services of America did not respond to The Jaxson’s request for comment.


Editorial by the managing partners of The Jaxson