‘Direct, deliberate attack’: Business owners furious over proposed parking permit scheme

Pilot program to solve parking problems near St. Petersburg. Mary’s Strip is a proposed solution that will be discussed this weekend.

SAN ANTONIO — Over the years, residents of Mount Tobin have voiced their concerns about crime, noise and parking issues in the neighborhood.

They claim it’s all voices from bars and restaurants in St. Petersburg. Mary Avenue.

Bar owners said they were also frustrated. Now, a new proposed pilot program to tackle parking problems is adding to the pressure to keep the business alive.

“It felt like a direct, deliberate attack on nightlife and hospitality,” said Aaron Peña, owner of The Squeezebox.

Peña said he was with more than 20 business owners on North St. Street. Mary’s, is preparing for another battle to keep the doors open.

“We’re dealing with hurdle after hurdle,” Peña said. “The timing is bad, so we need to get it off the table.”

Peña is one of a number of bar owners who will be affected by the city’s new Overnight Residence Permit Parking Program (ORPP), which will exclusively offer off-street parking to residents in designated areas from 10pm to 6am

A notice of the proposed pilot program was emailed to Peña on Monday.

If the pilot project comes to fruition, it will hurt his business, Peña said.

“I can’t park on the side street. What’s the solution? Are you going to park me 30 minutes away and send me here? It’s not going to work. It’s illogical and it would kill a small business like mine ,” he explained.

There are other things, like ongoing construction and new noise ordinances, that make things worse, Peña said. Some business owners report losses as high as $15,000 a month, he said.

“I hope to discuss this at the end of construction, because until that street is fixed, we don’t know what the world looks like to us,” said Peña, who has been outspoken on social media about the proposed parking permit plan .

Assemblyman Mario Bravo, presides over the First District and St. Mary’s Strip has met with neighbors and bar owners in the past to come up with a solution. Peña said his last conversation with Bravo was a few months ago to discuss the results of a parking study.

“The data released by the parking study only shows the number of cars on the street, the days they come, the time they come. It doesn’t say anything about this proposed parking plan for residents,” Peña said.

The project requires the installation of new utilities, lighting, sidewalks and expanded roads along N. St. Mary’s is scheduled for completion in August 2024.

Related: “They urinated in my yard”: St.Mary Avenue traffic study aims to tackle parking and crime

Alfonso Robalin, interim president of the Mount Tobin Association, said residents were also experiencing difficulties.

Neighbors have to deal with violence, indecent behaviour and litter outside the home, he said.

“The fights, the defecation, the sex was in the front yard … the most important thing was the gunshots,” Robalin said. “I think people are looking for solutions. This [pilot] Might be a solution or part of a solution, so that’s the hope. “

There was a meeting on Saturday to discuss the pilot in detail, with District 1 city leaders present to answer any questions.

“We want the business to succeed. We want the residents to have peace. We think these two things can coexist. It’s going to be difficult and there will have to be some concessions on both ends,” Robalin said. “Change will be difficult for both residents and businesses. Yes, I do sympathize with them.”

Saturday’s meeting is in St. Petersburg at 10 am. Hagia Sophia Greek Orthodox Church of Mary’s. Residents and business owners are encouraged to have their say ahead of the City Council’s vote on the proposed pilot program next Thursday.

If approved, parking permits will be valid within 30 days and will be provided to residents free of charge.

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