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Flagler Beach Kills Paid Parking Proposal for the City: ‘We Don’t Have a Parking Problem’

| March 15, 2019

What parking problem? (© FlaglerLive)

What parking problem? (© FlaglerLive)

“The news tomorrow needs to be no paid parking in Flagler Beach,” City Commissioner Rick Belhumeur told his colleagues on the commission during Thursday evening’s meeting.


So it is: the Flagler Beach City Commission killed any further attempt at a paid-parking scheme in the city, shelving a study that cost the city $20,000 and that was proposing to create a cumbersome system of meter-maids, paid and monitored parking in the city’s core, and that would potentially generate $300,000 in revenue over three years. But the city would have seen hardly any of that money. Rather, the money would have paid whatever management company the city would have had to engage to run its parking system and its various complications. (See a fuller analysis of the study here.)

Three times Commissioner Eric Cooley Thursday evening asked for a clear consensus from his colleagues to put the study and any further discussion of paid parking to rest. “I just wanted to clear the air of the parking thing and just say we all looked at the findings, we saw it’s not fiscally feasible, the juice isn’t worth the squeeze,” Cooley said.

Commissioners agreed. “For now,” said Commissioner Marshall Shupe, a veteran of those discussions, which have a cicada-like regularity to them. “It’ll come back in five years.”

“That’s five years of not hearing about it,” Cooley said.

The city will pay more attention to signage, however, and to more clearly advertising its existing free parking lots (it has five of them). The parking report, however, seemed to commissioners out of sync with the city’s needs and realities.

“I don’t think we have a parking problem, and certainly this isn’t going to repair any parking problem if we did. It’s going to create more,” Belhumeur said.

“I don’t think that report that we got shows that we ought to do anything,” Mealy said of the Walker Consultants report, which was presented to commissioners in January. “I don’t see putting more money into more studies to make it work like some people want it to work. I think we’ll just say finally we don’t have a parking issue and we don’t do this.”

“My take on that is similar but I wasn’t really looking at it as money-making,” Shupe said, “because I didn’t think we were going to get rich over it, that’s for sure. My take is, do we have a parking problem, and if we do, where can we adapt our resources to improve that, if there is indeed a problem.” But he was opposed to following any of the report’s recommendations. “I’m not even 49 percent agreeable with that,” he said. “I think it was a shot in the dark to get as far as I’m concerned an authentic–if you will–study done by somebody with reputable background and that type of thing. I think it was a good report, but I don’t think it works for this city or the residents. A couple of times a year it’s a problem, but people have put up with that for 40 or 50 years and they’ll probably put up for that for another 40 or 50 if they have to wait an hour and a half to leave after a parade.”

Commissioner Kim Carney said this isn’t the year to be experimenting with paid parking anyway, given the yearlong construction on A1A. She was critical of the report’s “snapshot in time” approach, which she said was not grounded in local realities, “and I surely didn’t expect somebody to come back and tell me I needed to hire an outside person to do this,” she said. She doesn’t think the city has a parking problem, either, “but I can tell you there were some recommendations from that parking committee like signage and GPS and getting our parking on the internet so people know where to go, that we do have to deal with, whether it’s going to be metered parking to raise money or not, that’s fine. But we still need to get into the next century so that when people come here they know there are other lots to go to.”

Mayor Linda Provencher was proposing to incorporate such proposals in a coming goal-setting session. But City Manager Larry Newsom said as soon as he took the job in the city he added the addresses of the city’s parking lots on the city’s website, along with a map. He concedes that Flagler Beach isn’t Sign City, but recalled that “when I first got here signage was a taboo world, because I walked into a city that basically said that we don’t like signs. We want to limit signs.”

Earlier in the afternoon the commission held a separate meeting to swear-in Belhumeur and Mealy, who were both re-elected last week. The commission then selected its next chair, replacing Belhumeur. Belhumeur nominated Carney. Cooley nominated Shupe. Carney seconded her own nomination, Mealy seconded the nomination for Shupe. The city attorney then said each proposal would have to be voted on in turn, starting with Carney’s.

Cooley was first up in the roll call. He paused a very long time, trying to decide whether he was for Carney or not. “Heck, I like either of them,” he said. As for Carney’s nomination: “I’m not opposed to it.” But he had nominated Shupe. He ended up saying yes to the Carney nomination, likely unaware that that would seal it for her: Belhumeur and Carney voted yes, too, while Shupe and Mealy voted no. There was another awkward moment when commissioners thought they’d get to vote again on the Shupe nomination.

No, Drew Smith said, since Carney got the majority, that was the end of it. She was the new chair.

Nominations for the largely ceremonial post are not usually that contentious, or weird. They are in this case because Shupe and Mealy have memories of Carney’s previous chairmanship, which unsettled the commission enough that one of its members attempted to boot her off the chair. The attempt failed at the end of a contentious meeting featuring a wave of public support for Carney.

Shupe won the vice-chairmanship unanimously, lining him up for next year’s chairmanship.

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12 Responses for “Flagler Beach Kills Paid Parking Proposal for the City: ‘We Don’t Have a Parking Problem’”

  1. Maria says:

    Great choice. Why pay someone else. Lesson learned from red light cameras. People use our mom and pop shops! Keep our beach town alive!

  2. Keep Flagler Beautiful says:

    That was the right decision. Flagler Beach does not need another tourist-killer.

  3. Martin Collins says:

    I am delighted to read this.
    It’s part of what makes Flagler Beach unique.Free parking,height restrictions,lack of chain restaurants,lack of billboards,all help to make our town so nice to live in or vist.
    My thanks to our city commissioners

  4. Freddy g says:

    Finally a descision that is logical and common sense! Great job Flagler!

  5. Nancy Miller says:

    YES!
    There is a wonderful atmosphere in Flagler Beach.
    Thank you for keeping it comfortable and easy to stop and shop and enjoy the beach.

  6. Shirley B says:

    The problem with parking is getting people out their car before they get to the beach. If visitors park several blocks back they are more likely to visit the businesses in town. Less parking along A1A would reduce congestion and accidents and improve aesthetics and dune vegetation.

    Next time a study is needed why not keep it local. Who knows our city better than the residents.

  7. Will Hazz says:

    One thing Flagler Beach City Commissioners need to do is vote some money to pave the Dirt Parking immediately South of the Pier. When it rains, those puddles are deep. It reflects very poorly on Flagler Beach.

    Has this been addressed in the current “improvements” to A1A? Does anyone know.

  8. Mark says:

    Where is the social justice in installing parking meters? The only way to solve a parking problem is to create more parking spaces! Charging poor folks for parking doesn’t solve anything! So now only the rich will be able to park here?

  9. larry krasner says:

    Got that one right!!! To publicize the lots, how about small, colorful, arrow signs like the ones at Veteran’s Park that read simply “Free Parking” and point to the five lots. That would help keep the “villagey” feel of the city but publicize the city benefit.

  10. Fuggetaboutit says:

    Amen

  11. tulip says:

    Where are these lots for parking? Are they restaurant parking lots? If so, if they were used for beach parking, wouldn’t that fill up the parking lot and restaurant patrons wouldn’t be able to find a parking space? Just a thought

  12. Greg says:

    Why are the people running this city acting like it’s some prime destinstion. There are hardly any decent places to eat. No atteactions and almost no culture. There is almost nothing to do in this city and you have halfwits wanting people to psy to park.

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