TREASURE ISLAND — An estimated 2,500-3,000 beachgoers crowded Sunset Beach on Saturday at what city officials hope was the height of this year's spring break.
"The spring break crowds should start tapering off now that we are past Easter. We expect they will begin picking up again after Memorial Day," said City Manager Reid Silverboard.
Beach crowds had already dropped on Easter Sunday to an estimated 1,200, according to police reports.
Silverboard said despite a few incidents, the crowds at Caddy's On the Beach bar and restaurant were largely "well behaved."
Last year, Sunset Beach residents blamed Caddy's for drawing large crowds of often-rowdy beachgoers who disturbed their neighborhoods.
This year, the city increased the number of police officers patrolling Sunset Beach in both marked and unmarked police vehicles as well as on foot and bicycles to monitor weekend crowd activity.
"We are doing what needs to be done and making visible arrests when needed" said Silverboard.
According to police reports, five people were arrested for a variety of alcohol and conduct-related charges on Saturday, while another nine arrests were made on Sunday.
The most common charges were related to underage possession of alcohol. Those arrested were taken either to the Pinellas County Jail or the county's juvenile holding center.
Sunday, two men, residents of Gulfport and Pinellas Park, were arrested and taken to jail for fighting inside Caddy's. Two Tampa women were also arrested on Caddy's property for causing a disturbance. Two others were arrested for failing to pay their bar tab.
Other Sunset Beach arrests ranged from a "highly impaired" man who had an outstanding warrant on a DUI charge to three underage women lounging on beach towels and drinking 12-ounce cans of beer.
Police allowed a Stuart resident "falling down due to intoxication" to call his sister to take "custody" of him.
A number of code citations were issued to people who brought glass bottles of beer to the beach.
Police also responded to a variety of complaints of public urination or sexual activity that either proved unfounded or where the "violators" were no longer at the scene when police arrived.
Approximately 120 parking citations were issued, mostly for expired meters or blocking driveways.
Vehicular traffic was heaviest on Saturday, particularly after two accidents at the intersection of Gulf Boulevard and West Gulf Boulevard. There were no injuries, but traffic was backed up for more than an hour, according to police.
Several residents were issued code violation citations for trying to sell parking spaces on their property.
In addition to the increased law enforcement, Silverboard said the city plans to put more trash containers on the beach both north and south of Caddy's, which has installed portable toilets on the beach. The city may need to add more toilets, as well, Silverboard said.
Meanwhile, one-side-only on-street parking on neighborhood streets has yet to begin on Sunset Beach. Silverboard said he expects special signs announcing the new parking policy will be put up within the next week.
The new parking restrictions for east-west residential streets will be enforced only on weekends and three major holidays — Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day.
Proposed changes to the city's parking lot regulations have yet to be reviewed by the city's Planning Board or approved by the City Commission.
A group of Sunset Beach residents has filed a lawsuit against both Caddy's and the city over parking lot issues. The lawsuit claims Caddy's is operating illegal parking lots and the city is failing to enforce its codes.