ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. – No plans were finalized during a special meeting Tuesday night held by St. Augustine Beach city leaders to discuss the issue of paid parking.
The majority of the people who spoke during the public meeting said they were against the idea. Only one person spoke in favor.
During Tuesday's meeting, the St. Augustine Beach City Commission discussed:
- Changing the parking hours to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Reducing the proposed parking rates
- Changing the base rate for parking to $2
- Changing the base rate to $0.50 for St. Johns County residents
- A no cost rate for people living in St. Augustine Beach
Commissioners delayed launching paid parking back in January. The most recent action taken by the city was in November. Just last week, St. Augustine Beach Mayor Undine George, held a town hall to discuss ways to address the city's parking needs.
George said the paid parking is projected to bring in between $200,000 to $240,000. That number could change depending on the number of parking spots.
As the plan stands right now, visitors would pay $2.50 per hour. Residents will be charged $1.25 for an hour, and beach residents would pay $0.50 per hour. But St. Augustine Beach leaders have talked about altering this plan.
George highlighted last Thursday's town hall meeting. Her full statement reads:
At the town hall meeting that was held on paid parking last Thursday night, the residents reached a lot of positive common ground on this issue. I believe that from day one the entire Commission was only ever interested in implementing a paid parking program that will work for the community. Some people will never like the idea of paid parking, anywhere, but most of the residents just want to make sure that it is well thought out and in the appropriate locations. As soon as the primary concerns were voiced, many of the solutions were obvious, but the City was unable to take formal action to reflect those solutions due to Commission absences, continuations, and other "red tape". Due to that three month delay, the negative aspects of the plan got a lot of traction, giving the mis-impression that the City was ignoring those concerns. Those concerns were never being ignored, we've just been awaiting the appropriate meeting to take formal action.
With its sandy white beaches and laid-back vibe, it's no wonder cars are lining up to visit St. Augustine Beach. Cooper Fortin lives in St. Johns County and understands the beach's appeal. What he's not sure about is the idea of paying to park at the beach.
"This place has grown for some time now," Fortin said. "I kind of understand the reasoning behind that," Fortin said. "But I don't agree with that reasoning."
Fortin isn't alone. Some haven’t been shy about sharing their opposition to the city's plan. During Tuesday's meeting, Chris Pennington, a St. Johns County resident, shared his feelings.
"They (city commissioners) are completely wrong," Pennington said. "Scraping nickels off a parking lot isn’t going to solve the financial problems.”