Paid parking returns to Jacksonville Beach

$5 charge enforced on weekends

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – It's back to paid parking for certain city lots at Jacksonville Beach.

In a vote of 5-2, the City Council chose to continue the paid parking program until it can hash out a more permanent plan. That will include a pilot validation program for all retail businesses at the beach.

The city makes about $100,000 a year thanks to paid parking.

"Five bucks is worth it to come out to Jacksonville Beach because there is so much here," beachgoer Joannie Bryan said.

Beachgoers must now pay to park only on weekends. The cost is $5.

Mayor Charlie Latham says many local business owners feel that hurts their bottom line. The city says they'll solve that issue with a validation program.

"Anybody that pays the $5 to park can go to a local merchant," Latham said. "The merchant will credit them $5 on the bill and then the merchant will bill the city at the end of the month."

But some business owners say they are unsure of the plan.

"I don't feel like I should be personally paying to go to my own beach, but you got to do what you got to do to tighten up the screws around here, and that's basically why they are doing it," business owner Tony Hall said.

The City Council also approved a plan for the Jacksonville Beach Police Department to take over the security for the parking lots when paid parking is enforced. The city will replace the big orange barricades around the lots with a movable gate system. Hall said he doesn't necessarily agree with paid parking, but understands the city's need to make sure the beach is a safe place.

"At the present moment, it's a bit of a surprise to me, but I'm willing to go with it because we need the extra security at the beginning of our season," Hall said.

The paid parking is in effect during daylight saving time, March 10- Nov. 3. During offseason, there will be no charge.