Key West raises its parking rates to $4-an-hour

Parking at meters and city lots in Key West will cost more as city leaders this month approved an across-the-board increase to $4 per hour.

That’s a buck more than previously at most meters on the island, and it is going into effect as tourists pour into the city for the annual 10-day Fantasy Fest party for Halloween.

The decision was made to increase revenue to balance the new fiscal year’s budget rather than raise the city’s property taxes. Higher parking rates will produce about $1.4 million a year, city staff said, and the rate reflects the market value.

Tourists will pay the bulk of the new parking rate, local leaders said.

“This was the year of Irma; I think a lot of people are out there still struggling,” said City Commissioner Sam Kaufman. “Why would we not increase the parking when we know 85 percent of that money is coming from tourists and we can lessen the tax burden on our residents.”

The $4-an-hour will apply to Mallory Square, the Key West Historic Seaport, the city’s parking garage on Caroline Street, the Truman Waterfront Park and on-street meters.

The garage’s monthly rate, which staff said is used by guest houses and for long-term storage of vehicles, increased from $107.25 a month to $200 a month. Employees in the historic district may still pay $25-a-month to park at the parking garage.

The rate is higher than some of Miami’s neighborhoods, where rates went up this month — but only for non-residents of the city. Residents will pay $1.40 hourly for street parking across the city. Non-residents will pay $3.25 per hour in Wynwood, the Design District and Brickell. Rates in city-owned parking lots will also increase.

Two years ago, Key West city commissioners raised metered parking a dollar an hour, up to $3, in a move raise about $1 million a year for the city’s affordable housing trust fund.

Nothing has changed with the residential parking permit, a sticker that costs $10 a year and is available only to city residents to park in residential marked spaces downtown.

Residents with the sticker can also park for up to four hours free, only once per day, in the parking lots at Simonton Street, the historic seaport, the parking garage on Caroline Street and the new 186 spots in the lots at the Truman Waterfront Park.