Sanibel prices out some visitors by hiking parking fees

Sanibel is raising parking prices by the hundreds. And, this could be pricing out visitors. Leaders on Sanibel tell WINK News what is behind the increase.

The quiet beaches and the seashell selection are what keeps Tracy Fox and her husband coming back to Sanibel.

“We love getting out on the beach and walking and picking up shells,” said Fox.

They live in Gateway but make the trip over to Sanibel two to three times per week.

“It wasn’t just about the beach, it was about stopping into the restaurants and having breakfast, lunch or dinner and stopping into some of the shops and seeing what was new,” Fox said.

But, Fox says she may have to cut back on the amount of time she spends on Sanibel.

City Council voted Tuesday to increase a nonresident beach parking permit from $124 to $300.

“I felt like it was really unfriendly to visitors,” Fox said.

The Mayor of Sanibel, Mick Denham, says they do indeed welcome people from off the island. “We welcome people from off island to come to our beaches. We want them to come to our beaches and spend money on our island,” Denham said.

The Sanibel Mayor said the old price was a steal. The now more-than-doubled fee is to help maintain the pristine beaches and amenities on Sanibel.

“We think it’s fair to what we provide for our tourists and visitors to the island,” said Mayor Denham.

While Fox does understand that the city needs money for upkeep, she doesn’t know if she’ll be able to keep coming back to the place she loves.

“If it had been a little bit of increase, you kind of understand that. That would be a little bit to deal with. But we’re really going to have to take a look. I just don’t know if that’s something we can justify for our use,” Fox said.

Sanibel’s B parking permits will be prorated to about $200 since there was a late start issuing the new ones. They go on sale on Monday.

Reporter:Taylor Petras
Writer:Drew Hill
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