Letter: SABCA We need MORE parking – Not PAID parking

Letter: SABCA We need MORE parking – Not PAID parking

Bill Jones, President
St Augustine Beach Civic Association

Special to Historic City News

Dear Mayor George,

After watching your Commissioner Comments at the end of the last meeting, I wanted to address and clarify. Your remarks seemed to attempt to discredit our organization and its members for their opinion on a millage increase versus the proposed pay to park program.

You stated that you asked several citizens if they were willing to support higher taxes to pay for tourists to park, and they all said “no”. Very few people would have answered yes to that question. In the survey world, you can get the answer you want if you frame the question properly. That is exactly what happened here.

For the purpose of clarification, on behalf of our organization, I wrote to inform you that our membership would have supported a small millage increase if the increase was presented with specific purposes and goals spelled out.

Some of the suggestions we offered included:

  • The addition of needed police officers to help manage the influx of tourists
  • We suggested that you, as the City’s representative to the TDC, ask that bed tax dollars be used to create a parking and transportation solutions
  • The development of new parking areas. We encouraged an effort to develop a cooperative arrangement with the County and possibly develop the old mosquito control property as a satellite parking lot and add the 64 angle parking spaces on the north side of Pope Road.

This proposal reads much differently than your question about “paying for tourists to park”.

We are not the only ones wondering why you seem to be moving so hard and fast to increase the size of our local government in a manner that does nothing to fix a problem that has been ignored for a decade.

Over a thousand residents and business owners signed a petition in opposition to the program. Many of them showed up at Commission meetings, and, at this time, it appears their voices have not been heard.

A new property owners’ rights group has formed, and they too have no interest in supporting a parking program that at best might net the City half of what is estimated. The cost of implementation and operation will eat away at a large portion of the revenue and the program will not create one additional parking space.

We understand that your opinion on pay-to-park is different than ours. What we don’t appreciate is a clear and intentional attempt to discredit our membership and mislead the community. The question, as you chose to state it, was clearly biased to support your position.

We could overlook this if you worked for an advertising agency or public relations firm, but you don’t. You are an elected City Commissioner and our Mayor, and you are supposed to represent all of us. Twisting our words and phrasing a question in the manner you did doesn’t instill trust in you or the pay to park program you are pushing so hard to implement. As a matter of fact, we find ourselves becoming more skeptical.

As previously stated, and for clarification, it is the position of the Civic Association that the City of St Augustine Beach should stand down on the pay-to-park program. The County is moving slowly and, at this point, there is no guarantee that they will even choose to implement a program.

Our community needs more parking, not paid parking. I trust this letter clarifies our position and will encourage you to be more sensitive to all members of the community when you choose to ask for input.