ST.PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Pinellas County beach parking fees are on the rise due to coronavirus as more residents are preparing to hit the sand on Memorial Day weekend.
“I’m enjoying the warmth of the sun and the sugary white sand,” said St.Pete beachgoer Denise Latour.
Whether you’re here for the waves or the sun rays, you can expect to shell out more for parking.
“The prices have gone up a little bit,” said beachgoer Stacey Lions.
You can pay by cash, card, or on the app. However you choose to pay, St.Pete beach is among the most expensive in the county. 8 On Your Side reached out to the mayor asking what’s sparked the increase and is it permanent?
“We’ll we’re the best, that’s why!” said St.Pete Beach Mayor Alan Johnson.
Commissioners recently upped prices $0.50 cents to $3.25/hour. The mayor said every day the beaches were closed the city lost $8,000/day in parking.
“We spent a lot of money managing the closure. Roping off parking spots, putting up barricades and all that kind of stuff,” said Mayor Johnson.
Johnson tells 8 On Your side they now have an added expense of increased bathroom cleaning and maintenance.
“It’s definitely worth it if they’re doing the cleaning they should be. That puts my mind at ease,” said Lions.
“I think it’s a good idea, that makes total sense,” said beachgoers Aaron Prohaska and Ally Tackett.
But not everyone agrees that it’s the right move. Treasure Island Commissioner Tyler Payne says he was against the price hike since the pandemic has negatively impacted so many families.
“With some people still being out of work [due to COVID], I could see how that could be a hardship on some people,” said Lions.
Payne told 8 On Your Side that their city has had the privilege of spending money on items that were luxuries in the past year or two, so now that push comes to shove he doesn’t think upping parking prices is where the money should come from.
Despite Payne’s vote, Treasure Island Beach parking also went up a quarter in most lots to $2.75/hour. “It’s a little extreme but you gotta do what you gotta do,” said one beachgoers.
Mayor Johnson said he hopes the price hike is temporary.
“It’s the price you gotta pay for all this beautiful scenery,” said Latour.
Here is a breakdown of parking prices for a few beaches in Pinellas County:
Go to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s dashboard for details about what beaches and busy and which ones still have room to enjoy.
LATEST ON THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC:
- Walmart extending closing time to 10 p.m. at most stores
- Coronavirus impacting young Black Floridians disproportionately, data shows
- CDC says people who recover from COVID-19 are protected up to 3 months
- Obama: Trump trying to ‘actively kneecap’ Postal Service to affect 2020 election
- Daytime host finds wacky but useful PPE on the internet