New “no parking” signage was posted in the public-right-of-way on the outer edges of the parking lot directly behind McGuire’s Irish Pub last Thursday afternoon, leaving several restaurant employees with $33 parking citations to pay at the end of the night.
“I went in at 3:30 p.m. with the night shift and saw no signs,” said McGuire’s employee Amy Fair. “I came out of work to ‘no parking’ signs put up in our employee parking lot.”
McGuire’s general manager Patrick Grantello said that once he learned of the parking citations from his employees, he paid off the tickets and then paid for them to be able to park in the lot for the next week until they could find other options.
“I paid for about $500 of employee parking fines and citations,” Grantello said. “The parking lot stays pretty much empty throughout the day and the pay-to-park app itself takes about 20 minutes to download.”
Grantello said that he understands the need for paid parking, but believes that the city should replace the Passport pay-to-park app with a different system.
“People aren’t comfortable putting their credit card information into the app,” Grantello said.
According to Fair, McGuire’s cleared out part of their valet parking lot for employees to use and the servers who park there are shuttled up to the restaurant on a golf cart.
On Monday afternoon, before the 4 p.m. night shift began, a McGuire’s employee stood outside in the lot behind the restaurant to help servers avoid parking in the right-of-way.
Deputy City Manager Steve Schmidt said that several companies, including HarborWalk and Southern Star Dolphin Cruises, have paid a half-price yearly fee of $1,000 for pre-paid parking for their employees.
City spokesperson Doug Rainer said the city sent two letters to all of the companies around the harbor area, including McGuire’s, explaining the half-price parking option available for local restaurants and businesses who need to ensure parking for employees.
In an email, Rainer confirmed that “no parking” signs were placed in the right-of-way at the corner of Zerbe St. and Sibert Ave. on Thursday, May 31 before 3 p.m., and that two tickets were issued by code enforcement for parking in the right of way on the same day between 6 and 7 p.m.
The Passport pay-to-park app offered a cheaper option for the city as opposed to installing pay stations, which Schmidt described as being expensive, especially if they ever needed to be replaced. Through the app, the city charges drivers $1 to park for the first hour and 50 cents each additional hour.
“The app itself collects a convenience fee of 25 cents for each parking transaction. They’re operating as a processor and gateway for credit card payments, so the gateway fee is 35 cents plus 2.9 percent of the total transaction amount,” said Schmidt.
So if someone parks in the paid lot for an hour, the city only keeps about 37 cents of the $1 paid. However, if the person parks at a paid lot for four hours, the city would collect about $1.80 of the $2.50 bill.
The city stands by their current parking rate.
“The parking rates are extremely low,” said Schmidt. “People can park in the lots for three hours for less than $5.”