Management is not the city’s strong suit

The City of St Augustine is clearly recognized for many things, but except for mis-management, poor-management, overpaid-management, or self-serving-management; professional management is not one of them. The latest example of lost opportunity for the city under John Regan’s underqualified management is the announcement that, in the next few months, any revenue from non-government owned parking lots will dry up.

Some incorrectly assume that if a parking lot has city parking meters or pay stations it must be a city-owned lot. The parking lot at the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument belongs to the National Park Service, for example. However, the city enforces the parking regulations and the two split the revenue. Good deal for the city, but the drawback is that a property owner at any time may decide to withdraw from the agreement and manage the lot themselves keeping all the revenue.

For many years, the city enjoyed the revenue collected from meters on privately owned parking lots. Property owners voluntarily signed contracts with the city’s Parking Division to come onto the property, collect the coins and enforce parking violations. The city did not share any of the revenue from parking citations with the owners of those lots.

City of St Augustine

Last February, Grace United Methodist Church took its lot at the corner of Cordova Street and Carrera Street out of the city’s shared system. They now manage the parking lots themselves. Before that, negotiations with Trinity Episcopal Parrish fell apart. Historic City News learned at the time that the rector of the church was not happy with the way the city tried to negotiate. The Baas Lot, named after the taxi company that occupied the last building on that site at the corner of Granada Street and Cedar Street, adjacent to City Hall, will become privately managed sometime after the first of the year.

The last of the non-governmental parking lots with city management is the Western Auto Lot; named after the Western Auto Store that once fronted St. George Street and had a rear entrance from that lot. On October 1st that lot, which faces Charlotte Street, between Treasury Street and Hypolita Street, will move to private management.

To Historic City News readers that means that although the parking locations remain, the city no longer enforces parking regulations — and there will be no more money for the city.

The Baker family, Rice family, Thompson family, and other private parking lot owners, along with the church entities, feel they are better off managing their own property, without the city’s help.  Keeping all the property’s revenue just makes the decision easier.