Forget quarters, Cocoa Beach parking plan requires cell phone to pay

High-tech meters require high-tech phones


COCOA BEACH, Fla. – Better carry your cell phone with you to Coconuts on the Beach, Heidelberg Restaurant or the Beach Shack, starting this weekend.

According to Local 6 news partner Florida Today, on Saturday the city will start charging $2.50 an hour to park along a two-block stretch of State Road A1A on weekends and holidays. But rather than popping quarters into meters or dropping bills in parking kiosks, motorists must use phones to pay via credit or debit card.

If you don't use the high-tech payment system, you'll be hit with a $30 parking ticket. Enforcement starts at 8 a.m. Saturday.

Foreign to Brevard County, this pilot initiative is aimed at tech-savvy teenage and 20-something tourists who frequent the Minutemen Causeway beach area, Assistant City Manager Charles Holland said.

And it's a key phase of a new downtown parking strategy scheduled to coincide with a 2014 meter-replacement campaign, Holland said.

"We're going to have some combination of meters, cell phones, kiosks and all of that. We're going to have a unified parking plan — and we don't (yet) have the pieces of the puzzle," he said.

"We're going to find out what the problems with the cell phones are. We are certain that we'll run into something. And we'll take the appropriate action. Any project always has start-up pain, if you will," he said.

About 30 existing parking meters will continue to accept coins at the "stub-ends" of First Street North and First Street South, but cell-phone payment will be added as an option, City Engineer John Adair said.

The rusting metal City Hall pay kiosk with 60 bill slots will be removed by Saturday, and $10 fees will be collected via cell phone.

The pay kiosk will continue operating at the new city parking lot off North Atlantic Avenue by Yen Yen Chinese Restaurant. A phone-payment option may be added in the future, Adair said.

The cell-phone pay-parking plan ends Sept. 30 and will be re-evaluated before resuming Feb. 1 for spring break, Holland said.

The Florida Department of Transportation prohibits Cocoa Beach from placing parking meters along SR A1A, Holland said. However, recently retired Assistant City Manager A.J. Hutson determined that cell-phone pay spaces are permissible.