Guest Column: Paid parking proposal at St Augustine Beach

Paid parking proposal

Max Royle, City Manager
City of St Augustine Beach

First, I’d like to make a clarification for Historic City News readers who have been trying to follow the discussions on beach parking plans.  The proposed paid parking plan for the City of St Augustine will NOT apply to pier park and the east end of Pope Road. Those roadways are owned by St Johns County, and it’s not known when the county might begin to charge for parking in those areas.

The city’s paid parking plan has two components: first, to have designated parking areas and regulations to prevent visitors from turning residential streets adjacent to the beach into parking lots; and second, to have a source of money, parking fees, to pay the costs to enforce the city’s parking regulations and to construct parking improvements for visitors.

Many have asked, “Why the need for parking improvements?” To paraphrase a famous quote from the “Field of Dreams” movie: Because even without the improvements, the visitors will come for a day at the beach.  Instead of chaos with visitors parked hither, thither and yon (wherever yon is—I’ve never been there), far better to have designated parking areas for the visitors plus regulations and the means to enforce them.  I guess this approach to visitor parking could be called “holistic,” whatever that means.

One of the most popular questions has been, “What will the parking improvements consist of?” They’ll be like what is already along the north side of 16th Street and the south side of 5th Street where paver blocks have been put to provide a stable surface for parking. The city wants to do the same on the north side of 4th Street, east of the Boulevard, the south side of 5th Street between the Boulevard and 2nd Avenue, the Ocean Hammock Park parking lot, and other areas along the east side of 2nd Avenue between A and C streets, A and 1st streets, and 3rd Street north to 7th Street.  

At a special meeting on December 17th, the Commission decided to charge the following initial rates:

  • St Augustine Beach residents: 50 cents an hour
  • St. Augustine residents: $1.50 an hour
  • Non-resident parking: $2.50 an hour

Other details are subject to change; but, at least at this time, we believe we know the answers to these additional questions:

When will the parking fees be in effect?
Seven days-a-week from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Will there be a minimum parking time?
Yes, one hour

How will the fees be collected?
Instead of old methods like parking meters or kiosks that accept coins, paper money or payment by debit or credit cards, the city will use something much more modern: a smart phone app. The process is simple: Each parking area or zone will have signs showing the number of the zone and directions for downloading the app. If you wish to park, you will go to the website shown on the sign, download the app, create an account, type in the parking zone number and the number of hours to park. The credit card will be billed for the hours of parking used.

A special meeting was held at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, to review of the city’s comprehensive plan to review the contract with the company that will provide the park-by-phone system and related matters.  Over the next several months, the city will promote a public education campaign about the pay-by-phone parking system.