PRESS RELEASE: The St Augustine Beach Civic Association was the first organization to float a Parking and Traffic Study nearly four years ago. The information in that study was shared with the City and County. Not much was done with it. One thing for certain, our community has made two things very clear. We need more parking and the concept of pay to park was not well received. The City and County have been talking about this for some time. The County has not yet made their final plan public. The last word we received was that some sort of pay to park program was coming only to Pier Park. The City in anticipation of the County's plan has moved very quickly to formulate a plan that many have called "hurried and without enough input from business and home owners". Over the last month we've heard from members and others, all of whom are not in favor of this plan. A public referendum on parking for citizens to vote on has also been suggested. One group has started petition, others are writing and calling Commissioners, members and someone has actually suggested organizing a Recall if Commissioners don't respond to the concerns of locals. While we feel the latter should be not be in the conversation yet, The Civic Association Board did feel the need to take a position on this subject. Here's what we suggest that you do now:
1. Business owners and local residents should immediately contact the Mayor and Commission Members to share their feelings. You may do this by phone, email or by speaking at tomorrow evenings meeting at City Hall. Email addresses for Commissioners are below
After the Commission here's from the community at tomorrow night’s Special Meeting, we are urging the Commission to put this on hold and wait until the County announces the details of their plan. This is not a race and there is no prize for being first to implement Pay to Park
The City Manager, on behalf of the Commission should contact St Johns County and insist our community not be used as an experiment. If the County wants to experiment, there are plenty of parking areas owned by the County that are not within our city limits. Perhaps the lot at Mickler Beach, South Ponte Vedra recreation Area (near Guana) or even the lot at Crescent Beach would be great testing grounds for a County operated Pay to Park program?
The Commission should instruct the City Attorney to investigate possible legal action if the County insists on using our City as a guinea pig or lab rat. When asked about discounts for locals, the County has said "no discount, everyone should pay the same". If the County wants to treat everyone the same, then Pay to Park should be implemented at every County park and facility and not just in our City. It would be hypocritical to not do so.
The City has posted an FAQ page (Frequently Asked Questions) on its site. The site says monies "could be used" to improve parking. If such a plan eventually moves forward, the City should change the verbiage to "must be used", and clearly share the improvements that will be made along with a timetable for completion.
The Civic Association urges all of you to share your thoughts as soon a possible with the City Commissioners. We remind you to be polite and respectful. Civil discourse should always be a must. The meeting will be well attended so it may behoove you to send an email or even call. The meeting will also be televised on local cable Channel 2 and will be streamed online via the City's YouTube channel.