ST. PETE BEACH — It will soon cost more for tourists and visitors to park at a beach access or any metered space on this island, while residents enjoy a freebee parking permit bargain.
On top of that, hanging tag guest passes are slowly being migrated online and into the 21st century.
During an Oct. 11 meeting, city commissioners unanimously voted to increase the hourly meter parking rate 50 cents from $3.25 to $3.75 on first reading, in a move expected to generate approximately $400,000 in additional general fund revenue, according to Community Development Director Michelle Gonzalez.
In another hike, parking meter rates for designated holidays and holiday weekends will go up from $15 to $20 per day, along with the same $20 a day rate to park boat trailers at the Egan Park boat ramp or Don Cesar boat ramp.
“I don’t think even at $3.75 an hour we’re not out of whack when it comes to what the value is,” said Mayor Al Johnson. “All you need to do is go to the commercial lot over there on Treasure Island and they’re charging $5.50 to $6 an hour.”
Meanwhile, Gonzalez said as a companion to the increase, the city will eliminate the fees associated with annual residential parking permits. They are currently $20 per permit. Free city parking permits for residents will cause a reduction in revenue of approximately $65,000, which will be made up by the increase in the meter rate, she said.
The ordinance reflecting the change noted “raising the hourly cost of public parking by 50 cents would increase available funds for beach-related projects, without substantially increasing the cost burden on those wishing to visit the city.”
Additional revenue generated by the parking meter rate increase will be used to enhance public beach accesses, beach maintenance and related projects, Gonzalez said.
The hike in tourist parking fees is going to offset costs for some improvements that are part of the new beach ordinance, she said. “We added staff, a beach manager, and will enhance some of the beach accesses … on the avenues,” she said. “Where you see the little beach accesses, we want to beautify those, so that revenue is going to offset those improvements.”
The change in meter rates should become effective when the parking ordinance comes up for its second reading Oct. 25.