Clearwater Beach, Florida- Up and down Clearwater Beachtourists and locals alike enjoy not only the world class beaches, but beach bars and restaurants.
Elizabeth Makowski is an employee at one of those beachfront businesses, working as a server at Frenchy's Rockaway Grill. She says the stress of her job begins before she even clocks in.
"The anxiety builds up my whole entire drive to work and I wonder, 'Am I going to get a spot," says Makowski.
She says parking became an issue when the city took away free spots on side streets replacing them with new meters.
"It's extremely frustrating especially because a lot of us work doubles," said co-worker Daniel Iles. "I don't know about any other jobs that allow their employees to just leave in the middle of a shift to put more money into a meter... it doesn't fly."
Thursday night, Makowski took her concerns to Clearwater's city council.
"You're punishing the very people who represent and serve Clearwater Beach. We are the ones who welcome and service visitors to this area," she told council members.
Clearwater's mayor says the fees collected from parking meters go to pay for year-round life guards and beach cleaning. He says other employers, including some of the major hotels, provide parking for their employees, but admits the city is looking into possible options.
"It was mentioned about having reduced rates. That's going to be a consideration," said Mayor George Cretekos.
Clearwater's city manager is studying the employee parking issue and will provide the council with a full report at a future meeting.
In the mean time, Makowski and her coworkers continue gathering signatures. They're up to 462 so far, and Makowski says she getting additional signatures every day.
"A lot of people are not going to be able to afford to work on the beach if something doesn't change."
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