Free parking on Galveston seawall coming to end

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by Andrew Horansky / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on July 8, 2013 at 6:23 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 8 at 6:50 PM

GALVESTON, Texas -- Hundreds of signs are now going up along the seawall in Galveston to mark new parking restrictions.

Drivers will soon have to pay $1 an hour to park, up to a maximum of eight hours.

They will pay by calling a number on the sign, and then entering their license plate and credit card numbers. No meters will be involved.

Galveston Police Chief Henry Poretto is hopeful the change will begin next month.

“I can only tell you it’s my goal to have them done yesterday,” Poretto said.

He said officers will know who’s paid by using new scanners in their cruisers. Like many of the signs, they are not all in yet.

Some residents have been waiting a long time for this. Voters approved paid parking back in May 2011, hoping that the revenue could clean up the beach and add restrooms.

But today, some fear the program will discourage visitors.

“It means that they’re either going to have to pay or go somewhere else,” resident Trent Peavy said. He believes some will opt for elsewhere.

Others worry it will force vehicles onto residential streets where there is no paid parking. Michael Lamb lives near the beach and said there are plenty of parking problems already.

“When they start putting in that paid parking on the seawall, it’s going to make all this traffic migrate into our neighborhoods. It’s going to make old people unsafe,” he said.

But the police chief points out neighborhoods do have the option of a sticker program. Officers can also scan to see which vehicles have stickers and ticket those that do not.

“Sections of the city are zoned off and there are regulations for those areas so that people can’t try to defeat paying for the parking spot,” Poretto said.

The police chief said that when the program goes into effect there will be a media campaign so that the changes do not come as a surprise.He added that there will also be an option to purchase a $25 pass for seawall parking.

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