JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Parking in Jacksonville Beach is a money maker for the city, and prices could soon be doubling.
Jacksonville Beach currently charges $5 to park in three city lots in its Downtown area.
Rates start at 8 p.m. Fridays and go through the weekend, and they also apply on holidays.
The city is hoping to bump the cost up to $10 for many festivals the beach hosts.
Drivers had mixed opinions Friday on doubling the fee.
Some said doing it just for the events would be OK, but others think the current prices are fair.
“I enjoy coming to the beach. I bring my cousins, my family. We all come out here,” beachgoer Jeremy Miller said. “I don't think we should raise the price at all.”
Mayor Charlie Latham said he wants to bump parking prices to remain competitive.
“If you drive around here and see what the parking looks like during those events, we're still half of what the others are charging, so we have to pay overtime rates for the company that comes out to watch their lots,” Latham said. “It's prudent, and it makes sense.”
Latham said that parking for residents in the 32250 ZIP code will remain free.
More parking may also be needed soon for two potential high-end restaurants coming to the beach.
The city is considering a parking garage as one option for those restaurants, but it hopes to avoid having to build one because of the high cost.
“We're talking millions of dollars,” Latham said. “If we lease one of the public lots or sold one of the public lots (to the restaurants), then obviously we'd be making money instead of spending money.”
But if the restaurants own the lots, they are no longer public property and are no longer available for beach visitors to use, unless they're going to the restaurants or are willing to pay.