JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - The Jacksonville Beach City Council on Monday night voted 5-1 in favor of doubling the price of visitor parking on holidays, holiday weekends and festival days.
The parking increase, from $5 to $10, will go into effect this year.
During Monday evening's meeting, Jacksonville Beach City Council members also decided to extend paid parking an extra month. That means the pay-to-park season will now last from March to October.
City leaders said they're cranking up the rates in order to stay competitive with market price and increase safety.
Tammy Brown and her sister, Barbara Collier, said they don't think the city should raise the price to park at Jacksonville Beach.
"I think parking should be free," said Brown, who's a Jacksonville Beach resident.
When asked why the city is increasing the parking rate, News4Jax was told it's because the city can -- while still being competitive with private lots, which can cost up to $30 to park.
City leaders said the revenue will also go toward security expenses to keep parking lots safe.
"It would keep people from coming to the beach or, at least, parking out and walking instead of paying," said resident Amanda Below.
News4Jax also spoke with people at the beach ahead of the meeting.
“I mean, I understand it,” beachgoer Ryan Stasiowski said. “I guess there is probably a lot more behind-the-scenes stuff going on, but it sucks to see the price double right over there at the Pier parking lot. It's $10, but I guess it’s understandable. It’s kind of a bummer, but whatever.”
Leslie Tucker, who was in town from Georgia, said, "We usually don’t come on holiday or festivals because it’s too crowded, but, nah, I probably wouldn’t pay $10."
Parking will remain free for Jacksonville Beach residents who show their driver's license with proof of address.
But some people said they would like to see that extended to all Jacksonville residents, not just those with a 32250 ZIP code.
“I’m 5 miles down the road and I try to come in before 10 o’clock to avoid the fee, but I think any Jacksonville resident shouldn’t have to pay. It’s mainly for the tourists that you’re trying to charge for,” beachgoer Amanda King said.
Where you pay for parking could also change. The Pier, The Ritz and Latham Plaza all charge for parking, but fees are also going to start being collected at the city parking lot at 2nd Street and 3rd Avenue North.
City staff members said it's possible fees could be charged for parking in the city's oceanfront lot, but no decision has been made on that.
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