The Passport pay-to-park smartphone app will come in handy for Destin residents and tourists starting this weekend.

On May 19, the Destin Community Center will become a permit-only parking lot from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and will transition to a pay-to-park lot Monday through Friday from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. On Saturdays and Sundays, the lot will be pay-to-park 24 hours a day.

The corner parking lot at Zerbe Street and Sibert Avenue, behind McGuire’s Irish Pub, will be strictly pay-to-park throughout the week and on weekends.

Community members who are part of a club or team hosted at the community center will receive parking passes for the duration of the season from the community center’s front desk. Once the season has ended, the parking permit will expire based on the date marked on the pass.

According to city spokesperson Doug Rainer, if the community center lot is full, patrons can park in the Zerbe Street/Sibert Avenue lot for free with a valid permit from the community center.

The parking meter rate is the same as the Marler Street lot; $1 for the first hour and 50 cents each hour after that.

So far, since the paid parking system at the 147-space Marler Street lot started in May of 2017, the lot has raised $9,693.50 for the city.

People without a valid permit hangtag or who don’t pay the meter will be issued a ticket for $33.

The city of Destin plans to use the money raised from the parking lots to pay for more parking solutions in the future without raising taxes. Parking solutions could be in the form of a new lot or a much-discussed parking garage.

“Paid parking is likely in almost every tourist destination community in the country. Tourists are used to paying to park and this gives us an opportunity to raise funds to create more parking, which is desperately needed in certain areas of our city,” said Rainer.

City staff has been working to prepare the parking lots by installing signs throughout the lots to alert people about the new paid-parking system.

The goal was to start the paid program in the community center and Zerbe Street/Sibert Avenue lots before Memorial Day weekend.

So far, comments on Facebook regarding the new pay-to-park lots have been mixed at best.

“There is no way a local resident should be required to pay for parking at their own community center or property the city owns,” Melvin Smith commented.

Kerry McNulty echoed Smith’s statement.

“Next we’ll be paying to park at the library.”

Several people responded neutrally to the new change.

“I think it’s crazy that some people are shocked by the pay to park concept,” said Facebook user Em Jay.

Mark Miller voiced a similar sentiment.

“Ya’ll realize how cheap this is compared to big cities, right?”

In addition to using the Passport app to pay for parking, people can call the number listed on the pay-to-park signage or log on to the Passport website. The app allows people to monitor their parking meter from anywhere and add time onto the meter by paying through the app.