Before permanently moving to the island in 2017, we used to take a 90-minute to two-hour drive from the northwest side of Houston and spent many a weekend enjoying the beach and downtown. A lot of times we made day trips.

One of the main reasons we kept coming back to the island was available cost. It didn’t cost anything to park on the seawall, and you could find no-pay downtown parking if you looked. You just had to get to the island early enough to get one of the available parking spaces. And we hardly ever went to Stewart Beach; why pay for parking when the rest was available for free?

When the pay to park on the seawall system went into place we started cutting back on the day trips. As the new amenities began to appear our thought was maybe the cost wasn’t so bad with the improvements being made. With the announcement of raising the seawall parking fee it became clear that the objective wasn’t to create a better island experience it was a money grab.

It makes me wonder how $6.8 million in grants and gifts can be spent on the present improvements, but the parking fees that were supposed to be for these improvements ($828,101 fiscal year 2017-18) are spent on “personnel, materials, and supplies...” at the rate of 70 percent of the take. I’d be curious to see the breakdown in those three categories — especially on the personnel side.

On the surface it appears that our elected officials have created an unsustainable business model, and this next round of fee increases and paid parking expansion is just the beginning.

People aren’t avoiding Stewart Beach because of the amenities, they’re avoiding it because of the cost. That’s why people are changing their beach patterns to the West End of the island; to get away form the additional fees and charges.

The mayor’s comments that the rise in people using the West End justifies building out amenities there is ridiculous. And to try and justify the increase by pointing to “transactional costs” is just as absurd.

I think our elected officials need to “slow their roll” on fees and expansion before they price the island out of the range of the normal visitors and residents.

Mark Chevalier lives in Galveston.

Locations

(13) comments

Steve Fouga

I believe the opposite. Tourists will happily pay double what Galveston charges to park on Seawall Blvd. If some won't, others will. The beach is that good a draw. If paid parking is a money grab, I say grab the money!

People aren't going to Stewart because the parking lot is under water much of the time. It's a mess. It's also unpredictable whether it'll be dry or flooded, sometimes holding water for many days after a rain. Most weeks I'm at Stewart at least once, and it's truly a surprise to find the lot free of mud, or even several inches of standing water.

Theresa Elliott

There is a great deal of expense involved in maintaining and cleaning the beaches. To charge beach users a fee is sensible and prudent of the Ciry, otherwise the citizens will have to pay for the costs. Another side point many people don’t realize is that hotel taxes pay for all of the life guards - not beach user fees or city taxes. So basically only hotel guests are paying for the guard sercices used by literally hiundreds of thousands of day trip beach goers. Just a side point that there are many expenses not even covered by user fees.

Kelly Naschke

We WANT the tourists that don’t have a problem paying parking fees. It’s the first sign that they have money to spend on the island. What we DON’T need is the tourist that gasses up, buys all the picnic supplies, and shows up with a tarp and chairs that were bought in Houston....and comes to the island without spending a penny.....but leaves all their trash on the beach.

Steve Fouga

EXACTLY! [thumbup]

Rusty Schroeder

What I want to see is enforcement of trash being left on beach and said parking fees. You will never change the carload of dirty shirt wearing, $5 in their pockets visitors from the 4th largest city in the USA. Until violations are enforced, that group of visitors just finds another car to use. One that doesn't have a citation in it's history.

Kelly Naschke

The ones that complain about parking fees are the same ones that show up in a dirty t shirt and 5 bucks in their pocket....and don’t change either one.

Jarvis Buckley

Kelly-👍👍👍👍👍

Paula Flinn

I would like to think that any family that can afford the gas and the time from work can drive down here for a few hours of fun on the beach without having to pay a lot for parking. Judging people you don’t know is unfair, whether they are rich, or poor, big spenders, or not. Let’s face it, this city does not know how to collect the money that is owed to it. Just ask the water department. Not charging a fee for parking during Mardi Gras, and other special events, has been a big mistake, in my opinion. But then, the City would probably not be able to collect it, anyway! Just passing laws and changing rules that are unenforceable is a huge of waste of time. JMHO

Kelly Naschke

Paula....I worked on the beach for 25 years. Why don’t you volunteer your time to pick up dirty diapers on the beach every weekend? Put your money where your mouth is.

Randy Chapman

[thumbup]

Rusty Schroeder

Kelly where did Paula say anything about people trashing the beach ? She talked about families coming to Galveston to enjoy the beach, whether rich, poor, black, brown, or white. She just want's it to be affordable to ALL, that's her opinion and she is entitled to it in these comment sections. I agree with her on the collection efforts of the city, albeit a mole hill that was let grow into a mountain. Seawall parking is what it is, I travel and most cities have parking fees downtown and along the beach. You want to see a neat beach parking setup, go to Folley Beach in South Carolina, they do it right. Beaches are clean and there is no driving on any part of the beach, you park in lots and there are crossovers to the beach. I remember when there were crossovers and lots like this on the west end, it was free, now they have been replaced with houses. The distance between the lots are no more than a 1/4 mile, plus there is roadside paid parking, just buy your ticket at the kiosk and your good. I will never park and walk beyond those bollards, I will go further west or across SLP, sometimes Crystal Beach. That's how I feel about a restriction that wasn't there and was put there for home owner organizations, not turtles. I think you owe Paula an apology, I don't think she was talking about people littering the beach. You are the one bringing up dirty shirt wearing, $5 in their pocket carloads of litterbugs, not Paula. I gotta go feed cows, and guess what, trash from 1764 gets in my pasture every day and I pick up after others. Think the state will give me any money for doing so, since it comes from their road ? :)

Brian Maxwell

Paula, the State of Texas prohibits increased fees on the Seawall for special events.

Kelly Naschke

And when you get done...(which won’t happen)...we’ll put you on cigarettes butt detail.

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