Jacksonville Beach, FL - The debate on whether you should pay to park in Jacksonville Beach is sparking up once again.
The city has been operating on a temporary plan for this past summer season, charging for parking on the weekends. They’re now considering four different options on the table for the future.
Mayor Charlie Latham says they are looking at a phased approach, a series of steps to get to their final goal which he believed will include paid parking.
“We’re going to find the most fair and equitable solution for the citizens and the visitors,” he says.
The options include using a parking management company, cashiers and booths, multi-space meters or an automated gate that would be activated by a pass that Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach residents could purchase.
Latham says one of the primary incentives behind charging to park is actually rooted in safety and security.
“If we don’t do any paid parking, we have the tendency to get folks who you might consider bad actors who use the parking lot to accumulate groups of people with coolers and radios- and that’s not what we’re looking for,” Latham says.
But many area businesses are not convinced security is really a big issue and say paid parking hurts their bottom line.
“They need to try to go back to square one and try to make money the old fashioned way,” says Campeche Bay owner Vince McGuire.
McGuire thinks the paid parking debate really stems around the city wanting to get money. He says the safety claims are not really proven. City reps say the options would cost between $300,000-$400,000, but would be paid off by revenue from the payments.
McGuire tells he wants no paid parking at all, but if it needs to exist he hopes the total is at least cut down to about $3 instead of $5.
Latham says they are in the very early stages now, taking a look at some of the possible steps forward. He expects this will quickly lead to action, however, with the goal of having all the changes- if there are any- rolled out by the spring.