During budget discussions Thursday night councilman Bill Veach said he’d like to see parking rates raised from $3.00 to $5.00 and short-term rental applications raised from $50.00 to $300.00.
Currently it costs local residents (without an annual pass), visitors and tourists $3.00 per hour to park in town owned parking spots. In Lynn Hall Park, which is owned by Lee County, the rate is $2.00 per hour. Veach suggested raising the parking fees to $5.00 and using the additional money collected to develop a parking app.
That app would include open spots that are government owned as well as privately owned. The town would have to get buy-in from the privately owned businesses. And, that assumes that people will not only use the app but not continue to drive around hoping they can get lucky with someone leaving a prime spot close to the water.
Vice Mayor Rexann Hosafros said she’s not opposed to the increase. “It makes no sense it’s less than Sanibel.”
Councilman Jim Atterholt said he’d have a hard time raising the rates before hearing from the public as opposed to springing this on the community one week before approving a new budget.
Veach also wants to raise the short-term rental fees the town of Fort Myers Beach charges to match what Sanibel charges. It’s now $50.00. He wants it to increase to $300. That, Veach says, would generate over $600,000 per year which he would like to see used toward developing affordable or work-force housing on Fort Myers Beach.
Affordable housing on Fort Myers Beach has certainly become a problem, especially for lower income workers as more single-family homes are sold and converted into rentals. Plus with the housing market booming the way it is, property owners are getting top dollar, not only for selling, but also when they rent.