JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – The city of Jacksonville Beach is discussing the idea of turning a parking lot into a parking garage after the need for more beach parking came up at a meeting last month.
There are five lots being reviewed as options to expand beach parking. Four of them are located west of First Street. The other one is the public parking lot next to the Pier restaurant, which is the only location oceanside being considered for conversion.
The city hasn’t decided if this will actually happen, but beachgoers are talking about it, especially at the public lot next to the Pier and across from Lynch’s Irish Pub.
"Everyone is looking for parking and this is a popular area for the sunbathers and surfers," one beachgoer told News4Jax on Tuesday. "But I don’t like the idea of having an eyesore blocking the horizon. That’s not pretty. It doesn’t provide a nice aesthetic."
Beachgoer Heather Bunch said she's not a fan of the idea.
"I think they are making money to pay to park on weekends. I think that’s enough. I think another building, it would kind of ruin the landscape. I’m happy with the way it is," Bunch said. "There has to be another solution -- not putting something right here. I don’t think that’s the best idea."
The four options that are not beachside are located in front of the Ritz bar, behind the Ritz bar, behind Surfer The Bar and next to Sneakers. All currently are public parking lots.
Beachgoers who parked in those spots Tuesday said they would be happy with a parking garage.
"I think it could be used for overflow for the cars, especially on the weekend," beachgoer Reina Thayer said. "On the beach bars is a lot of activity out here. I think it could be beneficial."
"More parking (would make it) easier for people to get around. It would help out a lot and be a lot more convenient," beachgoer William Walton said.
News4Jax spoke by phone with Mayor Charlie Latham, who said the need is really just three to four months out of the year when it’s busy enough to need more parking, so they are still weighing whether or not to make changes.
Lifelong beach resident Anthony Lyles thinks he will see garages come up at some point.
"It's going to be a little sad to see things change so drastically. But over the years, it’s already progressed in this direction significantly," Lyles said. "I’ll see how long it takes. That’s the big question."
Also, as a reminder, those who visit the Beaches Town Center will have to pay to park starting next week.
As far as the next potential step to convert a parking lot into a parking garage, it’s still in the discussion phase.