Flat-rate parking ends at St. Pete Beach, but website to track availability in real time is here to stay

Over the weekend, St. Pete Beach rolled out two pilot programs to make parking easier and cheaper. One of those programs ends today.

All of the public, metered spaces cost $15 on Memorial Day. The flat-rate cost was one of the pilot programs that started Friday but ends on Monday. 

The second program is here to stay though and helps beachgoers find a spot quicker.  Permanent on-street sensors have been installed along Pass-A-Grille Way between 1st and 12th avenues, as well as down 9th Avenue and will show where there's an open spot via a new website will provide live parking updates that tells which spots are open and where.

It's accessible with an app called Park Smart SPB, which is available through the Google Play store, or you can check if there are open spots on the city website.  An aerial map shows a green dot when a parking space is free, and yellow when it has already been taken.

"Not only will it let beachgoers know if there’s parking available or not, but it’ll also maybe help them redirect where they’ll go look for parking because they’ll know it’s full," said Michelle Gonzalez, St. Pete Beach director of parking and transportation, "and then ease some of the traffic congestion for the residents."

By July, officials expect the sensors will be installed to cover every metered space in Pass-A-Grille. If it is successful, the program could eventually be expanded to other beach parking. The city is paying $25,000 annually to offer this free service.

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Although the flat-rate parking ends today, city officials are considering keeping it around for other summer holidays.