TREASURE ISLAND — Boaters are just one vote away from being banned from anchoring close to shore along most of Sunset Beach.
"Residents in this area complain of the increased noise from boats as well as the increased risk to the safety of swimmers and others by the close proximity of boaters to the heavily utilized beach in this area of Sunset Beach," said City Manager Reid Silverboard in his report to the City Commission.
The commission unanimously voted Tuesday in favor of an expanded swim zone that, with one exception, would bar boats from coming any closer than about 300 feet to the shoreline.
The exception is a 200-foot-wide area near Caddy's on the Waterfront restaurant and bar where boats would be allowed to approach as close as 125 feet from shore.
The water there is about 3 feet deep and would allow most boaters to anchor and wade ashore.
This area extends from Third Avenue S to Caddy's northern beach side parking lot.
Not included in the swim zone is the southern tip of Sunset Beach, despite the pleas of several residents.
An attorney representing the Lands End Community Association condominium owners asked the commission to extend the swim zone, but the commission refused.
"It's an idle speed no wake zone there now," Commissioner Alan Bildz said. "I don't think they are going to have a lot of boats down there,"
The no-boating zone extends more than a mile from the north side of 77th Avenue to the south end of Weckesser Park, continuing from that point to the north side of a parking lot at 100th Avenue.
The new rules do not affect non-motorized vehicles such as surfboards, sailboards, skimboards, canoes and kayaks.
The rules also allow sail-powered vessels under 20 feet to ingress and egress the beach perpendicular to the shoreline so that residents who own small watercraft can still access the gulf.
The ordinance, which must still pass in final reading in September, allows the city manager to adjust the westward points of the swim zone.