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Paying to soak up some rays: Holiday beachgoers embrace new paid parking in Atlantic Beach

The Atlantic Beach city commission added the paid parking at 18th and 19th Streets to help cut down on noise and traffic complaints.

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. — Folks looking to catch a few rays in Atlantic Beach over the long weekend had to crack open their wallets.

This was the first holiday weekend since paid parking was implemented at two of the city's busiest beach access points.

"We got here early and there were plenty of spots," said Beachgoer Patrick Kyne. "It seems like now it's a little more of a struggle."

Patrick Kyne has surfed at plenty of beach accesses all up and down the First Coast.

He has a trick to beating the pain that is paid parking.

"Typically if you early enough, the paid parking hasn't started yet, but then it starts up," said Kyne.

That paid parking has just started up at 18th and 19th Streets in Atlantic Beach.

City Commissioner Mike Waters lives in the area and says its something he's pushed for for years.

"We had a lot of people staying up late at night with loud music here," said Waters. "The police were called at least once a week. It was not fun having to wake up to that, go to work the next day."

Waters says scenes of a packed lot with cars illegally parked were all too common in the mornings.

Now, all those cars will have to pay a dollar per half hour Friday through Sunday and park in a marked space, or face a $50 ticket.

"There used to be people who would ask if they could park in our driveway and stuff, so I'm sure this is less annoying than that," said Beachgoer Jamie Natale, who's father lives near the 18th Street access. "It's a great entrance to the beach, so I saw it coming."

Atlantic Beach residents who register their plate with the database will get three hours of free parking.

Residents can register here: https://www.northbeachesparking.com/atlantic

During a presentation last month, the city manager said the new paid parking was making about a thousand dollars per weekend.

That money will pay for the attendant enforcing the paid parking

Waters is hoping some can cover no parking signs to help "put a boot" on the parking issues.

"It's tranquil again, and it's peaceful," Waters said. "It's the way it used to be several years ago."

The paid parking only runs Friday thru Sunday, so Labor Day wound up being a freebie.

But Waters says the commission will likely consider including holidays in that for next summer.


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