ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. — Gas, groceries, rent. The price of just about everything is increasing right now. Soon, you may have to add beach parking to that list.
St. Pete Beach Commissioner Melinda Pletcher would like to see parking fees increase from $3.25 an hour to $5 an hour. She told ABC Action News that could help free up prime beach spaces and keep traffic from those seeking a spot from backing up like it often does in places like Pass-A-Grille.
“I just keep hearing over and over, why are we not charging more for our parking? There’s obviously a need, a want, and limited capacity-type situation,” Pletcher said.
St. Pete recently launched a parking availability map that shows which parking spots are open in real-time and the overall number of open spots beach-wide. Yet, how much are you willing to pay to park to enjoy this piece of paradise?
Christian Campbell, visiting St. Pete Beach from Orlando, said he would still be willing to pay $5 an hour to park.
Paula Porath lives nearby in St. Pete and said she wouldn’t be willing.
“I would come to the beach a lot less. I can tell you that,” Porath told ABC Action News.
If St. Pete Beach increases the fee to $5 an hour for parking, that will be higher than any other beach in the Tampa Bay area. Even Clearwater Beach charges less than $4 an hour to park. St. Pete Beach already charges a holiday rate of $15 a day on Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day.
Pletcher would also like to see a parking change in Corey Avenue’s business district. She said a 3-hour parking limit would work well for non-metered spaces to discourage people from parking in those areas and walking to the beach. She also said it would help to keep business employees from taking up the non-meter spots for hours at a time.
St. Pete Beach leaders will have to discuss these proposals before moving forward. They’re expected to take up these issues at this upcoming summer’s budget workshop.
Still, the idea has beachgoers divided.
“We are already paying for tolls and gas and sure we are here to have a good time. If we’re forced to pay it, I understand because they need to make their money. But, I’d probably go somewhere else,” Johntae Allen explained.
“It’s not going to stop people from coming to the beach. It won’t stop me from coming,” Rachel Wearmouth said.