For many years Tampa homeowners who live near restaurants and retail shops relied on “5 Minute Parking Only” signs to keep their streets free from visitors taking up space.
Suddenly, in 2017, those signs were null and void.
The change came after a complaint to Florida’s Department of Transportation, leading to a traffic operations engineer determining the signs were not in compliance with state law.
Since then, Tampa’s City Council has been looking for an alternative, and legal, solution.
Thursday the City Council agreed to test an alternative, approving a plan to allow a certain neighborhood in South Tampa to use residential parking permits.
The neighborhood in question borders South Howard Avenue where there are several popular restaurants — notably Bern’s Steakhouse, Fresh Kitchen, and the Epicurean Hotel.
Beginning this weekend through June 16, 2018, the Tampa Police Department is told it can enforce parking in the areas East of South Howard, south of Watrous Avenue, and between South Albany and West Morrison Avenues.
The three-month period will be a test for whether residential parking enforcements will be effective for residents who live near restaurants and retail in Tampa.
The city says it will enforce the rules seven days a week, but only from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. Violators could be subject to parking tickets, although the city council said they would want only warnings distributed during the first two weeks of enforcement.
A similar plan is also being considered for Ybor City, where there are already residential parking only enforcements. The additional “pilot program” will extend enforcement hours from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. as they are now from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
No “grace period” would be offered for Ybor City, as it is in South Tampa, because the residential parking restrictions have already been in place.