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City commission holds the line on Fire Assessment Fee, raises neighborhood parking rates

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

At their July 12 Special Meeting, the Gainesville City Commission considered the Fire Assessment Fee, fire inspection fees, and parking fees.

They voted to keep the Fire Assessment Fee at the current level, $133 per unit. The vote was 5-1, with Commissioner David Arreola in dissent and Commissioner Desmon Duncan-Walker absent. Arreola previously said that he wasn’t comfortable voting on the fee because he hadn’t seen a presentation giving a justification for it.

Chief Joseph Dixon gave a presentation on Fire Safety Inspection Fees, asking for a 5% increase in various fire-related fees. The presentation also recommended restoring fire inspection fees for inspections resulting in no violations; these inspections are currently provided at no charge. Dixon also requested an increase in inspection fees for properties over 10,000 square feet. The motion to advertise and draft an ordinance reflecting those fees passed unanimously.

Malisa McCreedy, Director of Transportation and Mobility for the City, gave the presentation on parking fees. She said the maximum rate for parking, 50 cents an hour, has not increased since 2004, and increasing that rate and the other increases she proposed could increase revenue by about $225,000 per year. The proposal specifically recommended that some high demand spaces be increased to 2-hour spaces at up to $1.00 per hour, that off-street surface lots change to a 4-hour limit, and that the garage rate be reduced to 50 cents per hour. 

The neighborhood annual parking rates would increase substantially under the plan:

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Arreola said the neighborhood parking changes were “stark. It’s more than what I’m comfortable doing unless there’s a really good reason.” McCreedy said the rates were based on comparisons with market rates (such as the university), which are about $100 per month. Arreola said he thought UF charges too much for parking, and that shouldn’t be the standard. 

Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos supported the increases because they could help reduce greenhouse gases, “both charging the real cost of a car… we’re currently subsidizing it” and also reducing the time that people spend circling, looking for a parking space. Hayes-Santos said he thinks UF charges too little for parking because there tend to be more cars than spaces. 

Arreola asked to split off the neighborhood parking, and Hayes-Santos made a motion to support the staff recommendation. Mayor Lauren Poe said they would find out quickly whether the prices are too high – “Simple supply and demand… I still think it’s underpriced, both in the neighborhood and on the street.” He agreed that the City is subsidizing people who make use of the neighborhood parking permits, “So I would love to quit subsidizing it altogether and charge true market rates with some carve-outs for hardship allowances if that’s our concern.”

During public comment on the motion, Nathan Skop said it’s a bad time to raise rates on “hard-working Gainesville families and neighborhoods.” He also suggested running the new rates through the equity tool kit.

The new parking fee structure without the neighborhood piece passed unanimously. The neighborhood rates passed 4-2, with Arreola and Commissioner Gail Johnson in dissent.

  • Poe: “charge true market rates with some carve-outs for hardship allowances”

    The Tyranny Train is full speed ahead. Selective Enforcement and Preferential Treatment flowing from the Golden Branches of Gainesville Government getting how many million$ in Federal Money yet still on the hunt to plunder the citizens more with higher Fire Safety Inspection Fees and Parking Fees. Agenda 2030 wants the population of Gainesville and Alachua County to be what number?

  • Well, true market rates for electric service in Florida are way below what we pay here, especially when you figure in all the taxes and fees. Maybe you should try to compensate for that in other ways like giving us a “break” on parking, right Poe?

    • I can think of other things that King Poe should “break.” 😉

      • Any readers here see or read “The Last of the Mohicans?”

        Great scene when the British are being escorted through the glade and get attacked by Magua…

  • Actually the only hot air/greenhouse emissions comes from these silly people who really think they are doing something important. With no notable success in anything else from any of them, there is no doubt most of what they do as a group will be colossal failures. Governing by try this and see if it works, “we’ll find out very quickly if prices are too high” – Poe, sounds like a high schooler pretending to run a city. Of course the self-titled Economics Professor with a BA in History who teaches high schoolers is mainly waiting on the next Fed Bailout to spend on trips and celebrations before raising taxes and fees yet higher. No cuts of course.
    And, so it can save greenhouse gases is laughable. Don’t see them walking to work leaving their SUVs at home. Presenting yourself as a minority because your step dad or adopted parent had an Hispanic surname takes a lot of hot air to begin with, especially when you don’t look it or speak the language. I guess they are all above reproach, even though anyone who listens to even a few random hours of their nonsense will discover the unabashed ignorance. Driving one citizen at a time away from a once nice place to live.

  • Poe should increase the RTS bus fares too while
    He’s at it…”quit subsidizing it and charge true market rates”.——I see they’re all wearing masks in the photo
    For this article…didn’t they all get their Covid shots yet?
    Don’t they know if they got their shots that they don’t have to wear masks? They must be stupid or something or it’s a political statement…can they stop the panhandling on street corners? No…the panhandlers with the signs around town really Makes the city look bad. I’m more concerned about the black on black
    Violence with the half a dozen juveniles that were
    Shot in the last few weeks…I think the masks cause
    Psychological problems and are making people nuts.

    • Marauders and Thieves Wearing Masks to Deceive with CovidScamTales Wickedly Weaved while Pretending To Need More CitizenFee$

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