Mount Dora to enforce downtown parking restrictions

Four-hour parking limits enforced in downtown core area

MOUNT DORA, Fla. – Visitors to downtown Mount Dora will soon have to limit how long they park their vehicles in the downtown core area.

Starting Thursday, the city is enforcing new parking restriction rules. Side-street parking is limited to four hours from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day along the following roads:

3rd Avenue, from Baker Street to Alexander Street
4th Avenue, from Baker Street to Alexander Street
5th Avenue, from Baker Street to Alexander Street
Alexander Street, from 3rd Avenue to 5th Avenue
Donnelly Street from the railroad tracks to 5th Avenue

City leaders said the new parking restrictions are a short-term solution to the ongoing parking problems.

Cpl. Jessica Howell with the Mount Dora Police Department is in charge of patrolling the area.

"I'm not trying to chase anybody away from town. The goal is to bring people in and be able to accommodate everyone more comfortably," Howell said.

But some merchants are not on board with the new parking restrictions.

Akhtar Hussain has owned two businesses in the downtown area for almost 30 years. He is concerned the new restrictions will hurt local businesses.

Hussain said he is worried people will leave, instead of finding a new parking spot, after time is up. He also doesn't think four hours is enough time for visitors to enjoy what downtown has to offer.

"People come to relax and enjoy. They don't want to look at their watches," Hussain said. "The people coming here and they'll have to park someplace else and if they don't find parking, they'll go away."

He calls this a "Band-Aid" and not a long-term solution.  

"The permanent solution is to put a parking lot or deck up the parking lot that exists or extend the parking lot," Hussain said.

City leaders said they conducted a parking garage study, but decided last year that was not the way to go for the downtown area. 

Howell is hoping the new signs will help curb the parking problems.

"I think with any program, you won't have 100 percent buy-in. But I think everybody is willing to give it the opportunity to see if it offers some solution to our parking issue," Howell said.

Visitors said they have mixed feelings about the time limit.

"Sightseeing, walking up and down the street, seeing different places, it might be a little short of time," visitor Gerald Lazarus said.

"Four hours, you can get a lot done. By that time you've spent enough money, you need to get out," visitor Becky McKee said.

City officials said there is plenty of free and unrestricted parking outside the downtown core area. The city is also offering a free shuttle to the restaurants and shops.

For the first few weeks, city leaders said, police will educate the public and give drivers warnings. Eventually police will start issuing $25 fines to violators.

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