JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - Over the next six weeks, two-hour free parking zones are being created in downtown Jacksonville Beach.
Mayor Charlie Latham said plans have been in place for about a year to limit some city parking spots to two hours. He said the changes are being made to address complaints from business owners who feared paid parking would affect their bottom line.
The mayor, along with business owners and residents, decided to add two-hour limited curb parking areas instead of parking meters.
"It provides us the opportunity to come in and use the merchants, then increase the frequency of shop visitors and restaurant visitors by having that free parking available," Latham said.
The parking time limits were made to benefit business owners, but will also allow customers to park for free long enough to shop and eat.
"Infrastructure for parking is important, and short-term parking is free for our businesses," Latham said. "People can come in and shop, move on and somebody else can fill the space."
People who live at the beaches said it makes sense for customers, but not beachgoers.
"It should be longer than two hours, though but it's perfect for merchants," said beaches resident Nancy Belec.
Currently beach parking is free Monday through Thursday, but from April through the end of September, Friday through Sunday you have to pay $5.
The two-hour limited parking places will be available all year long.
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