18th Street Enhancement Project

18thStreetBusyPhotoIntroduction

The City of Atlantic Beach is planning additional enhancements to the 18th Street beach access parking area to address residents’ concerns of congestion and nuisance activity. The initiative complements the City’s aim to beautify the community’s beach accesses.

By all accounts, the number of 18th and 19th street beachgoers has increased steadily through the years. On most days throughout the year, the public parking area is orderly; on many, days, however, the area is crowded with vehicles and traffic is heavy. Nearby neighbors say the behavior of many of the people who park on 18th Street often ranges from drunken to criminal, creating safety issues and detracting from the otherwise residential nature of the neighborhood.

In 2018, the City Commission rejected a recommendation from the ad hoc Pedestrian and Parking Safety Advisory Resource Committee for parallel parking, and asked the committee and staff to examine other options that would result in no net loss of parking and could improve conditions.

In September 2019, the City Commission allocated $125,000 for 18th Street improvements in its Fiscal Year 2019-20 budget, which was approved following two workshops and two public hearings. Before the budget allocation, the City Commission and administration received substantial input from residents throughout the City. Much of that input came via the Parking and Pedestrian Safety Advisory Resource Committee.

The City Commission reviewed various proposals to address concerns and nuisance activity at an April 2020 workshop. Particularly due to divergent interests in the community, the City Commission and staff – with residents’ helpful input – are attempting to determine the best course of action moving forward.

18thStreetThroughTheYears18th Street history: The number of parking spaces has remained consistent since at least 1971

1971: The Jacksonville Planning Board reported that there were 54 parking spaces at the 18th Street beach access.

Circa 1990: The Florida Department of Natural Resources and City of Jacksonville reported that there were 51 parking spaces at the 18th Street beach access.

2004-Present: Aerial photos from 2004, 2008, 2011 and 2020 indicate that there are 51 parking spaces – 44 perpendicular spaces (including two handicap spaces) on the north side and seven parallel spaces on the south side.

Parking Space Evolution Document

1971 Jacksonville Area Planning Board publication, “The Use of Automobiles on Jacksonville Area Beaches”

Public access and minimum number of required spaces

The beach belongs to the public and the public is lawfully entitled to have access to it. While some residents in the area have advocated for the reduction of public parking on 18th Street, the prevailing sentiment in the community is that doing so would not be in the public’s interest because it restricts access to the beach.

Further, the City’s current Comprehensive Plan states, “the City shall maintain all beach parking …  and reduction in the number of public parking spaces available at beach accesses shall not be permitted unless such eliminated spaces are replaced in equal numbers and within similar proximity to the beach.”

Perhaps most substantially, millions of shore protection dollars are funded through a cost-share partnership with the City of Jacksonville and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). Full eligibility of cost-share funding in AB is jeopardized if the City does not maintain at least 44 public parking spaces (or the equivalent thereof) at 18th Street.

2015 Duval County Shore Protection Project agreement

2019 Duval County Shore Protection Project agreement

Shoreline Protection Program funding assistance requirements

FDEP reporting error

It was recently discovered that the City of Jacksonville-FDEP cost-sharing agreement contains erroneous information pertaining to the number of required 18th Street public parking spaces. FDEP has provided a formal letter apologizing for confusion and confirming that parking spaces at 18th Street are counted for shore protection.

FDEP June 15, 2020 email regarding reporting error

City of Atlantic Beach July 15, 2020 cost-share eligibility analysis

FDEP July 2, 2020 Shoreline Protection Program parking eligibility correction memorandum

Action the City has taken since 2017:

  • Reduced the public parking sunset from 11 p.m to 9 p.m.
  • Added trash containers
  • Relocated the shower from beside Beach Avenue/18th Street roadway
  • Increased police patrols
  • Cited illegally parked vehicles
  • Assigned police volunteers and lifeguards to direct traffic
  • Limited southbound traffic on Ocean Grove to thru-traffic
  • Posted an electronic sign board
  • Installed no parking signs across Seminole Road

Action the City is considering due to nearby community input:

  • Paid parking
  • Timed seasonal parking
  • Security cameras
  • Security lighting
  • Improving the parking area’s aesthetics by landscaping and adding trees
  • Aesthetically improving the beach walkover
  • Reducing the number of parking spaces
  • Swapping some vehicle spaces for bike parking
  • Installing a sidewalk

Action the City has considered, but rejected

  • Reducing the number of spaces to fewer than 44, the minimum number allowed for federal shore-protection funding
  • Adding parking on Saturiba Drive
  • Altering the traffic pattern

Additional documents

Following are links to various documents pertaining to the 18th Street beach access parking area.

1975 Duval County erosion control line documentation

1976 Duval County Erosion Control Line certificate of approval

2014 Duval County Shore Protection Project parking assessment (Part 1)

2014 Duval County Shore Protection Project parking assessment (Part 2)

2014 report, “Public Beach Access & Parking Along Duval County Shore Protection Project”

Florida Department of Environmental Protection erosion control line information

City of Jacksonville 2018-19 Duval County Shore Protection Project local funding request

City of Jacksonville 2020-21 Duval County Shore Protection Project local funding request

“History of Beach Renourishment in Jacksonville”

Oct. `9, 2017 Parking and Pedestrian Safety Advisory Resource Committee minutes

Oct. 22, 2018 City Commission staff report regarding 18th Street parking

Dec. 10, 2018 City Commission staff report regarding  10th and 18th street parking

December 2018 Parking and Pedestrian Safety Advisory Resource Committee recommendations

February 2019 Parking and Pedestrian Safety Advisory Resource Committee recommendations

18th Street quarter-mile eligibility map

Police calls at 18th Street 2017-2020

April 14, 2020 city attorney memorandum re beach issues

April 2020 18th Street improvements, opportunities, constraints presentation

June 17, 2020 city attorney memorandum re 18th Street parking

Duval County shore protectionCoastalConstructionHistory

Duval County beach property owners and visitors have been the beneficiaries of federally funded shore protection projects for decades. Most recently, following back-to-back Northeast Florida hurricanes, the City of Jacksonville and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Jacksonville District expedited beach clean-up, land and sea surveys, contracts, and construction work along the Duval County beach shoreline, including Atlantic Beach.

The goal of engineered shore projects is to reduce risk and promote coastal resilience. Shore projects help to reduce the damages - economic, environmental, infrastructure, human health and safety - of tropical storms and hurricanes. Thousands of residents and businesses in Duval County benefit from these shore project because storm events erode the beach rather than destroying coastal infrastructure.  Coastal communities with engineered beaches have historically fared much better than other communities as proven by numerous studies.

Along with providing economic stability and opportunities, shore protection projects also have inherent benefits in restoring critical habitat for shorebird and marine turtle nesting.

The first Duval County project shore protection project was in 1978-80 and since then, sevent principal beach renourishment and dune restoration projects occurred, in addition to periodic placement of sand dredged from navigation projects.

For more information

Questions or more information? Email info@coab.us or call (904) 247-5804.