FORT MYERS BEACH, FLA — Changes now in effect on Fort Myers Beach starting today. The Town's permitting desk is expanding hours to help with the rebuilding. There's also a new curfew in effect plus reinstated parking fees.
People we spoke with along Fort Myers Beach said they were just happy to be back in the area post-Hurricane Ian to support businesses that are trying to come back - and didn't mind the parking fees.
"It was cheaper than it typically is so it’s actually a little bit better usually we pay $20 and now the rates are around five dollars so it’s actually a little cheaper," says Dakota Degatina who is visiting the area.
We've seen first-hand just how packed the beach has been today and throughout the past couple of weeks. As of today, the town resumed charging $5 an hour for parking in the following areas:
- Under the Matanzas Pass Bridge in lots numbered 1-4
- In the Downtown area including Old San Carlos Boulevard, Center Street, and Estero Boulevard
- Waistin-A-Way beach access parking lot on Estero Boulevard just south of Crescent Street
"I don’t think it’s that bad, I mean, of course, people have to still make money down here — it’s not 'everything is free' because it’s destroyed and I mean, five dollars really isn’t horrible," says visitor Savannah Paton.
And speaking of destroyed — we traveled down San Carlos Boulevard seeing a drastic difference from the crowds towards Times Square. As the rebuilding efforts continue every single day, we've seen cranes and trucks throughout the area. A lot of homes I saw somewhat standing weeks ago are now demolished. We are also seeing 'for sale' signs across pieces of land and what's left of some homes
But many continue to flock to this area to enjoy what they can of the beach and try to support local businesses who are trying to get by...
"We used to go to Yucatan Snug Harbor and Matanzas on the Bay and we love this area but hopefully it’s going to recover soon it’s very sad to see what it is but we support the place so we love the place."
Remember if you are heading to Fort Myers Beach, there is a different curfew for residents — it's Midnight to 6 a.m. on the Matanzas Pass Bridge and the Big Carlos Pass Bridge.
People need to show proof of residency and visitors need to show proof of reservations.
And as for the reinstated parking fees, the town says prior year resident parking passes will be honored.
Parking fees will continue to be collected per hour and violations will be ticketed.