In the Judicial District, the meters will be enforced Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
SARASOTA — The paid parking program started on Monday in the Judicial District, east of North Washington Boulevard on Main Street and Ringling Boulevard, in downtown Sarasota.
Throughout downtown, roughly 450 parking spaces will be affected by the program and drivers will be charged $1.50 per hour they are parked in those spaces.
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Visitors who forget to pay for parking or remain in their spot past the time they have already paid for will be issued a citation of $25. There will also be a one time ticket waiver for first offenders able to provide receipts showing they spent at least $25 at a downtown Sarasota business.
Jason Bartolone, Sarasota’s communications specialist, said in an email the city is only doing “light enforcement” at this point to let people get acclimated to the new system and helping them become familiar with the equipment if needed. Parking enforcement staff will not be issuing citations for parking violations at this point and are giving warnings instead.
Bartolone also said there is no estimated activation date yet for the meters west of North Washington Boulevard. He called it a “fluid situation.”
One of the first Main Street parking meters immediately after Washington Boulevard is in front of the Sarasota County Courthouse at 2000 Main St. The Sarasota County Surface Lot is across the street and offers free parking for one hour.
Around 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Carlos Florez, who lives in Palmetto, pulled up to the street parking on Main Street in front of the courthouse and walked up to the meter. He said that the pay stations were easy to use and automatically limited the amount of time he could pay for to the end of enforcement hours.
A few people also walked past the meter without paying.
The next day, around 9:30 a.m., Christen Prenatt, who lives in Sarasota, was visiting the courthouse to renew her passport. She was not a fan of the new paid parking program.
“It’s total bull,” Prenatt said while waiting in line to pay for her spot. “I’m going in for 30 seconds and I have to pay to park in front of a government building.”
The two people in front of her agreed with the sentiment and sparked a brief conversation over how frustrated they were with the meters.
Theresa Carnegie, another Sarasota resident, wasn’t a fan of the paid parking program, either.
“Why are they charging us to park?” Carnegie asked while entering her license plate number into the pay station. “This is taking up too much time while I could be in there,” she continued, motioning to the courthouse.
Her frustration grew when the machine declined to charge her card’s payment for less than one hour. There was a $1.50 minimum for people who decide to pay at the meters with their cards.
Upon noticing Carnegie’s frustration, another woman decided to risk the chance of being issued a ticket and declined to pay for her parking. She said “this is silly” and walked away.
There are 43 pay stations across downtown Sarasota and 35 pole-mounted parking meters scattered around the end of Main Street and on Palm Avenue. About 450 parking spaces are affected by the paid parking program, while 89 percent of the remaining spaces are still free.