Parking: The Worry Never Seems to End

By Mike Phillips

Ah, parking. While northern cities worry about organized shoplifting and children shooting up stores, we in sweet little Fernandina Beach worry about where to put our cars when we come downtown for a bite of lunch.

The worry never seems to end. At a city commission workshop Tuesday, commissioners and various citizens worried over the issue some more  and came up with – not much.

The fact is, there are X number of parking spaces in the downtown area and Y number of places where people want to park. X minus Y yields a solution most days, but human nature is not mathematically inclined.

One solution would be to charge a buck or two for parking in the choice places. Another might be to let people park for three hours in choice places but give them a parking ticket ($25 is the posted rate) if they stay longer. Requiring downtown workers to take a shuttle from Central Park is an idea (not one that gets many kudos.) There are parking garage advocates, until somebody fills them in on the cost of parking garages.

It was not one of those workshops that makes people say “Aha! That’s what we can do!” But keep your hopes up. There’ll be another one in a few months.

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Cheryl Grant
Active Member
Cheryl Grant(@cheryl-grant)
3 months ago

If you want your City population to visit and enjoy downtown, the City needs to address this issue. Why wouldn’t a permanent valet service work? Then it’s a choice to spend money for the convenience or walk. You DO know that many residents are not able to walk (well enough) to amble the streets with ease, right? Give them an alternative to “just walk.”

Rick Abernathy
Active Member
Rick Abernathy(@rick-abernathy)
3 months ago
Reply to  Cheryl Grant

I have always been an advocate of parking meters. City residents can obtain a sticker at City Hall and park free. Tourists can pay the meters. After all, the residents pay the taxes. I do realize that the tourism brings in a lot of money, but nothing like us that pay city taxes.

Alan Hopkins
Noble Member
Alan Hopkins(@dawaves)
3 months ago

Until you have an honest discussion about the development that WILL happen downtown and the ability of people to get downtown (I will give you a clue it’s not mass transit) nothing will happen that will be effective or meaningful.

I predict the people who insist that we just ignore it because we should just let the whatever happens happen will be very upset when all the development and traffic materializes .

I do believe there is a contingent of people who live downtown that don’t want to develop anymore parking places thinking that if people can’t park they won’t come. The ignorance of this approach is both astounding and troubling.

There is a solution that would accomplish many positive things for the tax paying citizens of FB. However it would take actually vision and leadership to accomplish. Both are severely lacking in this instance.

Last edited 3 months ago by Alan Hopkins
Faith Ross
Active Member
Faith Ross(@faith-ross)
3 months ago

Atlantic Beach and others have paid parking in “prime” areas. There are no meters, there is a kiosk nearby, just slip your credit card in. Placing paid parking (using kiosks) only on Centre St. and in Lots A & B would help keep our taxes down. All other parking elsewhere could be free. (Locals know where to park on side streets for free or in Lots C & D, south of Atlantic Seafood). Either choose to pay for “prime” parking or let the tourists pay for the “prime” spots. Just charging for Centre St. and Lots A & B generates $1.4 million a year @ $2/hr. Just charging for Lots A & B would provide dredging money for the marina, the marina finally wouldn’t need taxpayer subsidies of half a million a year (cutting our taxes), and it would pay for new restrooms and other needed marina improvements instead of City taxpayers footing the bill for someone else’s boat services. Many more are also starting to use Uber services, no need to drink and drive (and cheaper than valet service). For the Shrimp Festival, folks parked at Peter’s Point and then took an Uber. And another new phenomenon occuring lately is dropping people off who can’t walk, then parking on a side street. The City gets 1.2 million daytrippers a year, even with a parking garage there simply isn’t enough space to park cars downtown. With the tremendous amount of development occuring across the bridge, this situation is only going to get worse. Hopefully, with an array of different services, the City can keep the downtown accessible to most of us.

Last edited 3 months ago by Faith Ross