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No more free parking for employees in Clearwater Beach, Florida

| September 26, 2013

Clearwater Beach’s high tourist inflow leads to parking congestion, especially in areas around the beach. Employees who work at beach businesses have a respite – some spots on side streets have been set aside for free parking. However, the city is planning to levy a charge on all free parking spots, infuriating local employees, while officials argue that the money is needed for beach maintenance and safety.

Monthly parking decals to be introduced

City Manager Bill Horne says that the roughly 200 free spots will now have parking meters. Those employed around the beach, or their employers have to shell out $40 a month and $60 during peak season for parking permits.

Beach employees furious

The decision will directly affect those who serve the numerous hotels and other hangouts around the beaches. Elizabeth Makowski, a waitress at Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill says, “We’re the ones who should be given a break on the parking. We make this beach what it is. We bring back the customers and we keep them coming back.” She says that she is lucky to be making $40 a shift in off-season. “People who work out here can’t afford to pay it,” she adds, about the $40 monthly parking decals.

Makowski is now circulating a petition so that other workers can join the protest and stand-up against the hefty $480 a year parking fee. She has already got 462 signatures.

Reason behind the move

City officials claim that they studied the issue for a few months before coming up with this decision. According to city spokeswoman Joelle Castelli, the move was made with revenue generation in mind. “We’re talking about millions of dollars. 365 days of lifeguards is paid for by the parking fund, as well as every single morning they rake the beach,” she says. Castelli proposes that employers can buy the monthly decals as a perk to attract and retain employees.

Mayor George Cretekos says, “It isn’t fair for some businesses to have free parking for their employees while others don’t. The free spots aren’t benefitting tourists.” He did say, however, that reduced rates would be considered.

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Category: Parking management

About the Author ()

A creative writer at heart, Lisa currently writes for SmartSign’s blogs and dabbles in content strategies for SEO. She spends the rest of the time lounging in the comforts of her home, surfing the internet for areas of interest, or traveling to unexplored destinations. Having previously studied and worked in the field of journalism and media, Lisa likes calling herself a web journalist. She takes special interest in grassroots and tribal issues, and topics concerning women empowerment. She swears that books are a person’s best travel companion, and that good food can liven up any dull day. Lisa lives in the beautiful city of Jaipur, India.

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