Destin paid parking lots’ revenue is soaring

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DESTIN — When the city of Destin started charging people to park in its public lots last May, they were among the first. Now, many of the surrounding business are following their lead.

Destin’s decision has been profitable for the city.

Between May 20 and July 16, 2017, the city made $4,935 from parking. But since May 20 of this year, the lots have generated a substantially higher revenue of $20,577.

Last year, the 147-space Marler Street lot was the only lot that was pay-to-park, but in May of this year, the Community Center and the Zerbe Street parking lots also became pay-to-park.

And while the other businesses are facing public criticism—most notably HarborWalk Village, who began charging patrons $10 to park in its lot on June 15—the city’s lots are getting more positive feedback.

“Most cities charge something for public parking,” Santa Rosa Beach local Scott Tarnell said.

Parking at a city lot costs $1 for the first hour and 50 cents for each additional hour.

Instead of paying an attendant, the city uses the Passport pay-to-park app that lets you enter in your parking space and payment information. You can also pay by phone or by going to the Passport website.

JD Cantu recently moved to the Destin area and said the city parking is a cheaper and more convenient option.

“Two hours cost me $1.50,” Cantu said. “The app kept a running timer and I didn’t have to run back to my vehicle. I just added more time if I needed it.”

Tarnell said it rarely costs more than a few dollars to park and there are always spaces available.

“I prefer the use of the phone application for paying instead of paying a person or machine,” said Tarnell. “It makes me feel safer than handling money in public.”

The funds generated from parking fees will help pay for more parking solutions in the future, according to city officials.

“The city is using parking revenue to improve existing public parking and to create additional public parking throughout the city,” said city spokesman Doug Rainer.

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