Clearwater Beach yanking free parking spots - FOX 13 News

Clearwater Beach yanking free parking spots

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CLEARWATER BEACH (FOX 13) -

Parking changes at Clearwater Beach are causing a bit of an uproar among locals.  

No-parking signs are popping up at roughly 200 parking spots along side streets where beach-goers and beach employees normally park for free.

City leaders are planning to put up meters at those locations.  The city says they can use that money to hire lifeguards 365 days of the year.  

Some have been upset about the move, but Dan Woodard said he doesn't mind.

"I don't think it's a bad thing," said Woodard, a usual beach-goer. "You know they have to bring in the revenue for the city, so pay for parking. I just paid $5 until 4 p.m., so I'm here all day for $5, which is not bad. You know you can't go to the airport and park for that."

But for people who live and work in the area, it's a different story.

"I leave now over an hour to get to work and I live 30 minutes away. My anxiety builds my entire drive to work," said Elizabeth Makowski.

And that's just over finding a parking spot! It looks like that anxiety wont be going away anytime soon as "no parking" signs are popping up at about 200 free parking spots in clearwater. Some have referred to them as the "secret spots."

"They're taking the last remaining spots away. Now, employees have nowhere to go to park," Makowski said.

The money is supposed to go for year-round lifeguards and beach raking.

Makowski says its raking workers wallets.

"It definetly cuts into our salary. Definitely in the off-season, because we struggle to make ends meet 10 months out of the year," she said.

Makowski started a petition, collecting well over 400 signtures. She also took her fight to the city council Thursday, speaking in the public comment session.

No decisions were made, but her voice was heard. She says a parking garage is a must in the future.

"It is pretty outrageos its devastating. And I gotta tell you, a lot of people are not going to be able to work at the beach," she said.

For it's part, the city is listening, saying a garage is a possiblity.

"Were going to review it as a city after we have a full report. Initially, we had thought a lot of tourists used those spaces. Now, we're hearing different. So it's somthing we're going to bring back to council at a later date," said Joelle Castelli, Clearwater city spokesperson.

Workers can buy a $40 dollar per month decal to park in designated areas, but they say that's not the answer.

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