Folly Beach leaders consider converting many free parking spaces to paid parking

VIDEO: Folly Beach considering increasing number of paid parking spaces near beach

FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCSC) - Folly Beach leaders are considering a plan that would nearly double the number of paid parking spaces near the beach.

Folly Beach Deputy and Zoning Administrator Aaron Pope says the city has been planning to expand its paid parking since 2015, and city council could authorize that plan during its meeting Tuesday afternoon. If they do so, many of the free parking places near the beach become pay by phone, box or meter spots.

The City of Folly Beach currently has approximately 535 paid parking spaces where drivers pay a box, meter, or through an app on your phone.

They could potentially add up to 451 paid parking spaces along Arctic Avenue and Ashley Avenue, on the first blocks back from the beach, from at least 2nd Street to 5th Street. These are all currently free spaces.

Pope says Folly Beach City Council wants more paid parking to offset costs to the city generated by daily visitors for beach access, management, improvement and public services such as trash collection.

He also says paid parking would increase the income received from the paid parking program as a less variable revenue stream for the City. The city also believe it would create and/or fund improvements to the current right of way parking areas on the island for a better user experience.

Pope says the addition of meters, new signage, pay boxes, and new shoulders to lead into the spots, would cost $202,280 in first year expense. It will be initially paid for through the city's unrestricted general fund balance.

However, Pope says the city expects to be able to pay all of this back with the funds they make from paid parking.

The city expects to make $461,681 in annual income if a total 451 paid parking spaces are added.

The parking contractor estimates these annual revenue numbers based on 2019 revenue.

Council has other parking options up for discussion as well, with fewer spaces ranging from 62 to 286 spaces, so not all of the spots may be approved right now.

Pope says Tuesday’s council meeting is intended for authorization for the City to fully develop the plan, to finalize signage and improvements needed, and pursue approval from the Department of Transportation. Actual budgetary approval would only come after the City has approval from the South Carolina Department of Transportation. Pope says he hopes that discussion will happen when Council adopts the 2020/2021 city budget later this year. At that time, there will be more opportunity for public input when the finalized plan and budget is presented to Council.

Mayor Tim Goodwin says it is important to note that residents of Folly will receive parking passes that allow them to park for free in the paid parking areas. So they paid parking would only apply to visitors.

You can submit public comment on this until 5 p.m. Tuesday via the email address keich@follybeach.gov.

The City of Folly Beach says the meeting is closed to public in person, but can be viewed online.

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