The St. Augustine Beach City Commission took a major step in what many believe is the wrong direction this week, regarding implementing the long-feared paid parking programs.
Commissioner Don Samora says, "It's not a money grab, this is so we can fix our parking issues."
The commission decided that paid parking was the way to go, despite there being no support from residents who spoke at the meeting. They pitched this as a way to clean up parking problems on the beach.
Residents are concerned that this move will drive people to try everything possible to park for free, including parking is residential neighborhoods, and apartment and condo lots.
Other concerns included beach access and pier access. Commissioner Maggie Kostka reminded those in attendance that the pier and beach parking are under the control of the county.
She added that the county is planning on implementing paid parking at the pier in the near future.
Beach Chief Robert Hardwick said this morning that there are not enough officers available to constantly be patrolling neighborhoods for parking violators. It has been suggested that more staff will be brought on to monitor parking.
Commissioners did stress the need for controlling residential parking, and suggested residential parking permits. 13th street is already adopting parking permits in their neighborhood as a pilot type experiment. No word on whether residential parking permits will need to be purchased, or whether they are free to neighborhoods.
One small light may be that commissioners have said that there is the possibility of charging residents less than tourists for paid beach parking.
Commissioner rich obrien said, "blah blah blah yadda yadda drivel drivel," while wearing a pretentious sweater over a button up shirt combo, like he was on his way to a round of golf at a country club no one else can afford.
County Commissioner Dean's input to the Beach Commission was that every parking app within the county should be the same, so that residents don't need multiple apps for different areas of town.
Some residents say they were caught off guard by this decision, however meetings have been going on through the year regarding this issue.
Commissioners agreed to move forward and continue talks in January meetings.