ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. — Leaders in St. Pete Beach are urging beach visitors to pay for parking before hitting the sand.
The city recently increased the amount of citations for not paying the meter or parking in a permit-only residential area will cost you.
Failing to pay in a beach lot at the parking station or on the Park Mobile app could result in a $40 ticket. Parking in a permit-only residential area could result in a $90 fine.
Every two hours, city leaders can issue another citation in the same amount.
That’s worrisome for beach visitor John Morro who sometimes loses track of time at the beach while chasing his children.
“When you’ve got the little ones running around an hour here and an hour there adds up quick. $40 I think that’s a fair one-time fee and that should be it. I don’t think extra citations are necessary,” Morro said.
Since the pandemic in 2021 and 2022, St. Pete Beach leaders have nearly doubled the number of parking citations issued compared to pre-pandemic. On busy beach days, they average about 150 citations.
St. Pete Beach leaders say the increased fines are necessary to encourage turnover and keep beachgoers from clogging up residential neighborhoods and spots designated for people who live on the beach.
St. Pete Beach resident Jess Bonds knows all about that issue. He used to live just steps from Upham Beach. “There it is a daily problem. Especially on holidays and Fourth of July. People going to the beach take all the spots. It’s frustrating when there was no parking for us. We want people to enjoy the beach but we’d like a place to park ourselves,” he explained.
St. Pete beach leaders hope the new fines encourage everyone to follow the rules and pay the meter.
Michelle Gonzalez, the city's Director of Community Development, says overall they want to encourage good behavior. "If you parked violating the city’s rules, then after the first ticket it incentivizes people to correct the violation, so they don’t get another ticket. The City (of St. Pete Beach) does not want people to leave their car parked illegally all day, especially in residential parking permit restricted areas,” she explained.