Residents say an influx of parked vehicles into narrow residential streets would not just be a nuisance, but could be dangerous and prevent access for emergency vehicles.
Retired local vet Mrs Pat Morris said when the council previously charged for the car park at Gullane beach, visitors left their cars in nearby streets instead.
She said: “It was a nightmare. Visitors just did not go into the car park, but parked along both sides of all the narrow side roads and verges, making them well nigh impassible. Many folk could not get out of their own gates on a sunny day.”
Mrs Morris, who lives in Hopetoun Terrace, predicted the situation would be even worse if charges were brought back. She said: “The car park was full the other weekend and they never opened the overflow car park. They were parked all along Marine Terrace and up on banks.
“I don’t grudge people coming down here for the day, but they just park anywhere.”
Alastair McIntosh, chairman of Gullane community council, said more details were needed before they took a view of the parking charge proposal.
But he said: “We would be concerned if people were parking in surrounding streets.”
Dave Berry, SNP councillor for North Berwick Coastal ward, which includes Gullane, also voiced concerns. He said: “It’s not just Gullane. The situation is pretty much the same at Yellowcraig, where you have a long straight road leading up to the car park. There’s nothing to stop people parking there, but that will impede the traffic flow and emergency vehicles.
“It’s probably even worse in the case of Longniddry, for safety reasons. People would park on that main coast road.”
The plan for a £2 per day charge at 13 East Lothian beaches has been put forward by the Labour group which runs the authority in coalition with the Tories and an independent.
Labour council leader Willie Innes has said income from the charges will go to regeneration of the coast.