Seawall Parking

Paid Parking on Galveston Seawall Still Met With Resistance

by Brad Woodard / KHOU 11 News /
Posted on September 2, 2013 at 8:53 PM

Visitors had to pay to play if they parked on the Galveston seawall this weekend, and to say it’s an idea that’s still being met with resistance would be an understatement. The unofficial end of summer came with a price on Galveston Island, and not surprisingly, a lot of people didn’t like it.

“It’s a dam hassle. I remember going here as it a kid, it would be free,” Antonio Tobar, a Houston resident, said. Tobar struggled to pay by phone, first entering his credit card number and then his license plate number on his smart phone.

“Actually it would be more convenient with the meters. I know the meters in Houston have credit cards. Not everybody has a smart phone…and as you saw, it took 10 or 15 minutes trying to pay by that little app or call that number thing,” Tobar said. Another visitor, Lexi Crommett of California, struggled to do the same thing. The wind noise off the Gulf was making it difficult for her to hear the prompts.

“I think if I had the app it would be a better idea,” Crommett said after it took her 10 minutes to pay. Rather than take 10 minutes, some people would rather just shell out $10 to park in private lots; others nothing at all. “You get cars from Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, various different states,” Nathan Randall, a Galveston resident, said. Randall lives just down the street from the seawall. He said that despite signs prohibiting parking for everyone but residents with permits, he still sees cars from all over.

“Sometimes you can’t get to your own residence,” Randall said. Back at the sea wall, some visitors were not even away that you had to pay for parking. “I didn’t know we had to pay by phone to park,” Diana Virgin, a Dallas resident, said. Plenty of tickets were written over the weekend, so Virgin schlepped all of her belongings back to her car and struggled with the same routine like so many others. “Well, it’s ridiculous,” she said. Police said they will not be able to say how many tickets were written until after the holiday.

Those who would like to avoid the hassle can purchase an annual pass for $25.

28 Responses to “Seawall Parking”

  • galveston_guy says:

    Please “share” and let us know what you think about paid seawall parking. Let us know your concerns and issues with license plate recognition software to identify vehicles linked to outstanding warrants.

  • TxTourist says:

    I am in favor of paid parking for the seawall! Galveston cannot survive without tourism. There are limited facilities on the seawall and improvements are needed. I have been going to Galveston for over 50 years. Let the visitors, like me, contribute to the economy. Why should Galveston residents have to cover all the costs for my visit. The pay by phone process was simple. I don’t normally park on the seawall, but $25 a year or $1 per hour is not going to break beachgoers. The rub will be if no improvements are made such as restrooms, water fountains, or heightened security. If you average just 500 vehicles for 8 hours, that is comes out to about 1.46 million dollars a year and that is a very conservative estimate.

    • 69 Chevy says:

      Galveston is a tourist based economy. Where do you think all those people come from that crowd our shops and restaurants? The tourist are what drives the Galveston economy! You keeping squeezing for every last nickel and dime and eventually they will stop coming back.

    • 69 Chevy says:

      You won’t get 500 vehicles during the week, and no where close to that over the winter!

  • Truth-hurts says:

    It has been 2 days and the city delivered the first enhancement. They retired the black plastic bags from the signs.
    Enhancement 2: what a beautiful display with all the signs lined up very shiny one after the other. They definitely improves the beach side view.
    Do not expect another one anytime soon. I wonder who will benefit from this, at least they gave free wifi when they charged for parking at the strand. I have been there since, I guess they didn’t need my money after all.

  • jdunlow says:

    I am in favor of paid parking on the seawall. I love Galveston and I am usually there every weekend. If this goes towards cleanup of the beaches especially. I have tried 4 times already to pay but there seems to be a glitch in the system. I called at 7:00 am one morning and the recording said it was not taking payment at that time but to try another location?? I tried a couple of hours later, the system took my payment information and location code then it repeated itself. Why does each sign have the same location number? No one (especially out of town visitors) wants to stand on the seawall on their cell phone trying to pay in 110 degree heat!! It is very annoying. I guess I will have to wait until I get a ticket – they have my personal information but I have no result! Now, if we can just get every visitor to take their trash with them!!!

  • bobd7912 says:

    I believe there should be no parking on the seawall. Parking garages and parking areas should be constructed with elevated crossovers to the seawall. The safety issue will continue as long as there is parallel parking on the seawall, paid or free. Picnic areas could be built and mobile vendors could set up for food and beverages. It could become beautiful to look at as you drive safely down the boulevard. If they would tear down some of the old eyesores across from the seawall these parking facilities could be built.

  • lideadri says:

    Was planning to bring my 7 y/o to Galveston but I guess well do a drive by. Definitely nit paying to step out into some brown/black water with seaweed on the beach. Just wanted to show her how close we were to gulf from Katy. I guess we won’t even bother to spend our $$ in Galveston for lunch either. Whst a drag. I guess we’ll go back to Corpus Christi or our family vacation on the Florida shoreline where the water is clearer and no charge. My co-workers told me about the charges and ssid they were not going to pay these feed for a rotten beach or any beach for that matter. Well I’ll save our $100 for better holiday plans

    • islanderdon says:

      Anyone unwilling to pay a $1/hour for parking has no intention of spending a dime here. Lideadri , stay in Katy. Take your trash to Corpus. We could card less whether you come here or not. If you don’t have a few dollars for parking, be honest and admit you don’t have money to spend here on anything else. Get your gas in Katy, come here any dirty our beaches and head hind without spending anything. Nope. Don’t need you at all. If you are stupid enough to think flying to Florida would be a better deal, clearly you’re brain dead as well as being a liar.

  • lisalynn says:

    Get over it people! Everyone charges for parking these days. Cities have bills to pay. Just spent the weekend here and the water was crystal clear and blue. Fishermen were out in force and families were having a blast. Lideadri, your logic makes no sense. You won’t pay $8 to park in Galveston but you’ll spend hundreds of dollars to fly to Florida? Galveston doesn’t need your money or your pretentious attitude. There are plenty of us working class folks who love this little island paradise and frankly don’t care for all the bashing. Pay your 8 bucks and support one of Texas’s finest cities or just just shut up. I’m heading back out to the water. Peace y’all

    • 69 Chevy says:

      One thing I did notice Sunday while biking down the seawall was all the empty parking spaces. I also noticed that the paid private lot across from Pleasure Pier was as packed as I have ever seen it. It looks like the Seawall Parking tax has pushed a lot of people into that lot, owned by a local billionaire, that weren’t using it when free parking was available on the seawall!

      I also noticed it is a lot harder finding a parking spot in Kroger and Academy!

    • islanderdon says:

      Amen Lisalynn.

  • 69 Chevy says:

    Everyone doesn’t charge for parking! I just got back from Venice Florida where not only was the parking free, but the water clear, sand white, beaches clean and you had “Enhancements” like public restrooms, showers, picnic pavilion, grilles and a snack bar. I island hopped around Hawaii and all the beaches I visited there were free. Closer to home you need a permit to park on the beach in Port Aransas, but the yearly pass is 1/2 of what Galveston charges, and there is available free parking. Currently the only free beachfront parking in Galveston is where waves actually crash into the base of the seawall!

    Galveston has and is in the process of receiving millions of dollars in Federal money following Ike, and the best they can do to say thank you to the American taxpayer is nickel and dime them to park on the seawall. I saw 5 cars in a row with tickets Sunday. I wonder how many of those folks will be back next year?

    The Visitor’s Bureau released a study that a family of 4 that spends a day in Galveston spends $150.00 with local merchants, so claims that day trippers were coming down and trashing our beaches and not spending money are false.

    What I did notice about Florida was there were “No Littering” and “No Public Consumption of Alcohol” signs and almost everyday I saw some one getting a ticket. Cops actually made a group of young people dump out their beers, and those nearby applauded . Galveston advertises that you can drink only on East Beach, but Sunday morning at 10 am there were people all along the beach and on the seawall drinking. Most carrying glass bottles. Could you imagine the revenue if Galveston would enforce rules already on the books? Now we will see even less enforcement with GPD focusing all their attention writing parking tickets!

    Yesterday I rode the entire length of the seawall on my bike and did not see one “No Littering” sign, yet every 25 feet I had to ride around a sign demanding money for parking. And whose idea was it to put those signs 2 feet in from the curb. Obviously someone who has never walked, jogged or rode a bike along the seawall!

  • islanderdon says:

    I’ve never seen a beach in Florida you didn’t pay to park at. Maybe you were just high.

  • BOI1960 says:

    Most of the comments are from loud-mouths in the GDN newspaper as well. Paid parking is here, and it’s here to stay. It was voted on and approved so get over it and get used to it. This is still America, and the majority rules. If you’re not in the majority, then either buy tons of crying tissue or move. I have 4 generations of BOI’s buried here, and my family helped forge this city into what she is today.
    Alot of folks against it don’t live here, shop here, pay taxes here, or even work here or go to school here. Tend to your own gardens.

    • 69 Chevy says:

      A lot of people that live here don’t shop here.

      The average family of 4 that visits Galveston for the day leaves $150.00 behind when they go home. They pay taxes when they shop the Strand or seawall, eat at our restaurants, and if they spend the night pay HOT taxes that supports our convention center and beachfront improvements. That is a lot of garden tending!

  • islanderdon says:

    I was the biggest supporter of paid parking in Galveston. For years, I carried the banner. This could have been such a good thing for our tourist industry. Enhancing the seawall with amenities we couldn’t afford was a winning proposition. That all fell out when Chief Porretto decided to steal the revenues from the parking and buy more officers to assault our tourists. Meter maids would have done the job perfectly and would not have been inclined to assault citizens like our thug police force has a long standing history of. Fire Porretto immediately. He has a tainted past history of police brutality. Now he has stolen our chances of making any money off the parking. God this city is full of morons at city hall. The number one being “one-and-done” Rosen who has destroyed this cities future. He must go too!

  • 69 Chevy says:

    75% of the revenue raised was mandated by vote to go to “Enhancements”. Even the Daily News, that along with the Chamber of Commerce led the push for the seawall parking tax, is questioning how much if anything will be left since we have already hired 4 new police officers, signs every 25 feet, and had to buy license plate recognition software. With day trippers now flocking to the West End to avoid parking fees the City will have to spend even more money to address that issue.

    It has become apparent that the numbers used to sell the parking tax were flawed. I don’t have a problem with Porretto. This project was going nowhere until it was thrown at him. GPD should have been consulted prior to the vote for a more accurate estimate at administering a program like this. 10% was way to low, but a more realistic number would have hurt the pro tax cause.

    Had the “Enhancement” group used the 40K they raised, from businesses that stood to profit from the program, on improvements we would have a better looking seawall already.

  • 69 Chevy says:

    The GDN began banning posters to it’s on-line forum and eventually restricted all except those that receive home delivery. This web page was set up to allow all to discuss the paid seawall parking issue.

    Calling people “loud mouths” or “High” because they provide a point of view other then your own accomplishes nothing. We should be thanking our tourist rather than calling them “stupid”. We live in a City that has been losing businesses and population for over 40 years. Tourism is the only island industry that has shown any growth. Why risk losing that momentum on a program that will ultimately fail to deliver as promised?

  • 69 Chevy says:

    If you attended or watched last night’s Galveston City Council meeting you heard that they project that 75% of revenue raised from seawall parking fees will be needed to cover expenses of managing the program. When the “Enhancement” vote was held we were told 10% would cover administration and 75% would go toward improving the seawall.

  • 69 Chevy says:

    GALVESTON, TX — A policy that charges motorists to park along a popular coastal road has led to a shortfall of more than $300,000 that taxpayers must make up.
    Galveston city officials in August implemented a fee for seawall parking that’s generated nearly $200,000 in revenue. But it costs $550,000 to operate the system, in which drivers pay online or by using a smartphone.
    Assistant City Manager Brian Maxwell tells the Houston Chronicle it’s too early to judge the program. He says the numbers represent a “small portion of our busy season.”
    Voters approved paid parking in a 2011 referendum with the understanding that fees would cover various services.
    Planners had estimated the project would earn $1.55 million, which would cover $1.16 million in operating costs and leave $390,000 to spend on the seawall.
    (Copyright ©2014 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

  • 69 Chevy says:

    They have also issued nearly 3K parking tickets, of which barely 1/3 have been paid collecting only 22K. The other 2K will probably never visit the island again!

  • 69 Chevy says:

    Other than signs there has still been no enhancements!

  • CommonCents says:

    2000 unpaid parking tickets from tourists that probably won’t come back because of an unpaid ticket that is probably accruing interest. 2000 tourists x 150.00 = possible $300,000 annually. I know it’s not an exact science, but still nothing to sneeze at. What about this seasons tourist that won’t come back and next seasons and so on.

    This is similar to the red light camera program that was going to bring cities millions of dollars a year annually with no extra man force hours. Now how many cities are pulling them down because they are losing money with that program as well.

    As for being told a certain small % would go to admin costs is similar to the Texas legislature telling everyone that ALL the lottery money would go to the education fund and where did it really go? The general Fund. If Mark Twain were alive today I’m sure he would restate a certain quip when asked about the gov’ts and it’s ability to look you dead in the eyes and lie to you. There are lies, damned lies statistics and politicians.

    Now the city of Galveston has to figure out a way to get a few more nickels out of everyone including BOI’s to fix “their” financial blunder. Maybe they can “rebuild and expand” Interstate 45 which would allow them to legally get around the law “that only new roads” are allowed to be toll roads. You could then turn I45 into a toll road and then “everyone” (because we are all in this together after all) would pay their “fair” share.

    Later CommonCents

  • 69 Chevy says:

    So now we may finally get enhancement in the form of bus stops with bathrooms, funded not thru seawall parking tax revenue, but thru transportation grants. What little seawall parking tax revenue remains after administration cost and overhead will barely cover cleaning the rest rooms. That is if the grants are approved and they ever get built. This is a far cry from all those editorials the GC Daily News ran where they said paid parking would finance a beach front to rival the best in the world. Talk about a bait and switch!

    Meanwhile GPD has requested another dozen officers to among other things help manage the parking program. And trust me they need help! Did anyone notice how many cars were illegally parked in the neighborhoods, and on vacant lots near the beach over the 4th of July weekend?

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Paid parking will ultimately cause some neighborhood concerns due to the fact that visitors will try to locate
a parking place that is FREE. Galveston Police Dept. Enforcement Plan.


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