Each year Chandler Smith has gone to Gainesville’s Thomas Center B at 206 NE Sixth Ave. to pick up her city parking decal, the lines have been long.
But now that the city’s Billing and Collections Office has moved to the third floor of City Hall, the University of Florida senior believes that parking woes may create longer lines and more frustration.
That’s because while parking at the Thomas Center is free and unlimited, parking at City Hall is limited to free two-hour parking or scarce metered parking.
With limited parking, Smith, 21, said she wouldn’t be able to remain in line long unless somebody sat in her car and waited so she didn’t get a ticket or get towed.
“I learned my lesson my second year [of holding a street parking decal] and tried to get my city decal before restrictions were lifted to avoid the lines, but even then it was a pain,” she said.
Bob Woods, head of the commission’s communication department, said that the same services previously offered at the Thomas Center will now be offered at City Hall, and will be offered on Fridays to be accessible to more people.
He did not return numerous phone calls to answer questions as to whether parking issues were considered in moving the operations to City Hall.
University of Florida sophomore Blair Cacciamani said she is worried that following the move, city parking will become more frustrating for residents.
“People are going to have such a hard time parking at City Hall,” Cacciamani, 19, said. “Then there’s going to be long lines and people are going to get screwed.”
This year, the day before city parking restrictions were enacted, lines were over two hours long, according to the Gainesville Billing and Collections Office.
If the same were to happen at the new location, residents waiting in line would be towed.
“I waited in line for 20 minutes, so I got lucky,” Cacciamani said. “But while we were at the desk, more and more people were coming. The line was easily two hours because they only have two women working.”
Parking is always a complicated issue, Woods said, but the downtown area has parking available if you look for it.
“The city has a beautiful downtown parking garage,” he said. “There’s plenty of space available at a very low cost. There are all types of different packages for city employees for discounts, and also for students.”