TAMPA — Tampa Councilman Harry Cohen thinks he may have struck upon a way to solve some of the parking problems along South Howard Avenue: add parking along busy Platt Street.
Cohen has asked city officials to look at the potential for adding on-street parking to Platt, now a three-lane street, when the street is repaved later this year.
Cohen sees an opportunity for metered parking if the city shrinks Platt to two lanes and puts parking in the newly open space along the sides of the street between Howard and the Selmon Expressway.
The new parking would alleviate some of the congestion that plagues the bar-heavy SoHo district on weekend nights.
“This is the idea,” Cohen said recently.
Cohen has asked city officials to advise the city council Aug . 7 on whether the idea can work.
The city took a similar approach to Ashley Drive last year, narrowing the travel lanes and making room for a bike lane and on-street parking between Kennedy Boulevard and Polk Street.
Ali Glisson, spokeswoman for Mayor Bob Buckhorn, said the original plan for Platt was to repave it this month with a bike lane added to the mix. It wouldn’t be possible to fit a bike lane and parking in the same space with three travel lanes, she said.
Between Kennedy and Bayshore Boulevard, Howard is a narrow street with little room along the sides for parking. It is nearly 50 percent over its capacity, according to city traffic counts.
Traffic and parking have increasingly become problems on South Howard as the street has become more closely identified with the de facto SoHo entertainment district.
More than two dozen bars and restaurants operate between Kennedy and Bayshore, in some cases with limited or no on-site parking.
The lack of on-site parking has given rise to a thriving valet system that relies on unused parking spaces in medical offices and other businesses closed at night.
Lending Luxury, a dress-rental boutique on Platt Street, is one of the companies that allows valets to use its parking.
Manager Jennifer Rosen welcomed the possibility of more parking on the street.
“I don’t think it’s a bad idea,” Rosen said. “There’s never enough parking in South Tampa.”