The days of free parking for Galveston beach goers has come to an end.
Beginning Saturday, visitors to the coastal, hurricane-prone community will have to pay $1 an hour or $8 a day to park along chunks of the main drag, known as the seawall, The Galveston County Daily News reported.
On opening day, officers will not issue $17 citations to violators, but will instead let them off with a warning and a bit of information about the new parking policy, Police Chief Henry Porretto said. The city is using a mobile-phone based system called PayByPhone to collect the money.
"It's new to Galveston, but it's not new to the rest of the world," Porretto said. "Galveston is 174 year old. Sometimes everybody is slow to change. Of course we're going to have challenges, but we're going to help people get through those."
Galveston voters approved the parking plan in May 2011. It took the city until now to find a way to manage, fund and implement the program. The city plans to use the revenue to pay for beach enhancements, which could include bathrooms and beautification projects.
Mayor Lewis Rosen estimates a full season of paid parking could put $2 million in city coffers, though previous estimates put revenues at up to $750,000 a year.
The money will also be used to pay the salaries of four police officers and five parking attendants.