With no parking on Vilano Beach, cars block area streets

Driving on beach banned due to erosion from Hurricanes Matthew, Irma

VILANO BEACH, Fla. – Since Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, parking on Vilano Beach has been banned. St. Johns County says the sand is just too soft.

So visitors are finding other places to park -- including on residential streets -- leading to frustration among some homeowners.

“Since the hurricane, the sand is too soft and a lot of it was washed out to sea. So, this is where they’re coming to," homeowner Arnie Grieves said, pointing to her street. 

Resident say sometimes even their driveways are blocked and something needs to change.

“They used to be parked all the way down this street, even with the signs up," Grieves said. "So I went over to the town and asked them to put up more signs, and they did. And they still parked."

"They parked in my driveway at my house up the street here, and they parked in my other house’s driveway," said Earl Jensen, who owns Ocean View Lodge. "They parked all over my parking lot at Ocean View. They park at Magic Beach (Motel) a lot of times.”

Jensen said the issues stem from a lack of parking spaces to accommodate the number of visitors. That wasn't a problem until recently.

“They used to park on the beach and go into the ocean. You can’t do that now. The beach is gone," Jensen said. "All the houses are falling in the water. Not so good. Now, we have a critical problem at the beach.”

The lack of beach parking is not only a problem for residents in the area. St. Johns County used to charge cars to go on the beach, so the county is bringing in less revenue.

Recent revenues:

2013: $120,000
2014: $181,000
2015: $172,000
2016: $109,000, through Oct. 6
2017: $11,000 from March 1 to April 2. The county then closed the beach to driving again because the sand was too soft and vehicles were getting stuck. 
2018: No revenue

There's less revenue, but more expense for the county, as deputies have stepped up patrols to ticket cars parked illegally in the neighborhoods near the beach. People living here say the tickets so have have not deterred many drivers from parking here, anyway. So far, no cars are being towed.

One of the residents suggested installing parking meters along these streets and even charging a fee for access to the beach, which he said was successful in his home state of New Jersey.