Jax Beach targeting plan to fix parking problem | News

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Jax Beach targeting plan to fix parking problem

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- By the time April rolls around, hundreds of thousands of vacationers will flock south to catch some Florida rays.

As great as that is for beach towns like Jacksonville Beach, there is one consistent problem that never seems to go away: Parking. That's why Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham is making parking a top priority in the new "Downtown Action Plan".

"We're the victim of our own success," says Lathtam. "When you make a nice environment like we have here, you get a lot of people who want to move in and a lot of people who want to visit."

When the vacation season hits, it becomes a balancing act for the city.

"Three nights a week for six or seven months a year we need extra parking, other than that they'd sit empty."

Mayor Latham is looking down every avenue and, above all, listening to public opinion to find a way to handle parking in the summer months. It's just one element of the "action plan," which he hopes to present to the city council for approval in March.

"We're always crowded, that's just the nature of the game," says Latham. "It's not financially responsible of us to build a giant garage for millions of dollars that we'll only use 50 percent of the time.

One avenue he is exploring is the possibility of a shuttle, while also enhancing the usability of JTA's new trolley system.

"We're talking possibly about setting up an employee parking lot elsewhere and then working with the businesses to make a shuttle."

That, he emphasizes, is only a proposal at this point.

Something that's already in the works is the partnership with local law enforcement to help keep visitors off local property. An issue that locals say only pops up in the summer. During that time, some homeowners will post signs in their yards or even cones to keep people from parking or block their driveway. It's an issue Zach Wood knows all too well.

"People will drive up and down the road and can't find parking so they'll say, hey can I park here, and I don't mind so I say yeah, sure, go ahead," says Wood.

Beyond vacation season, Wood says it's a problem on a nightly basis, year round. To fix the problem, he turns his yard into a parking lot for his friends. That way, they can walk to the bars. Otherwise, the night life in that area can be hard to come by because of limited parking.

Mayor Latham says beyond parking, the overall goal of the "action plan" is improvement on every level. Specifically, in making the area more family-friendly, which could mean opening up more age-appropriate venues along the beach.


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