Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Buzzkill for partiers: Leaders favor longer alcohol ban on Sunset Beach

TREASURE ISLAND — Despite pleas from business owners and threatened legal action, the City Commission tentatively voted Tuesday to continue its ban on drinking alcohol on Sunset Beach for most of the year.

"I fear you have awakened the sleeping giant. This is going legal," said Ka'Tiki owner Fred Stern.

Stern said he and other merchants on Sunset Beach had lost 30 percent or more of their business since the commission instituted the weekend and holiday drinking ban in May.

Residents had a very different view and urged the commission to continue the ban.

"This past six months has probably been the loveliest six months for the past three years," said Robin Welborn. "The majority of the residents love the peace, quiet and serenity of their beach again."

Steve Yost, who lives near Ka'Tiki and Caddy's, said his neighborhood has been "tranquil" since the ban.

And resident Barry Cousins said: "This ordinance is designed to regulate the people who visit our beach, get drunk, misbehave and threaten our safety. Unfortunately, these people cannot be constitutionally excluded, but they can be regulated."

Cousins said that any downturn in business at the beach bars is because of the economic slump, not the snuffing of cocktail consumption on the sand.

For years, weekend drinking and lewd behavior among beachgoers prompted angry complaints and even lawsuits from Sunset Beach residents.

In 1986, the then-sitting commission tried to ban alcohol on all public property, but a voter referendum blocked that effort.

Several years ago, the number of spring breakers visiting Sunset Beach began to rise sharply. Residents complained about heavy traffic, blocked streets and driveways, drunkenness, and visitors urinating in residential yards and having sexual trysts in beach dunes.

In 2009, a proposed 60-day ban on alcohol on all the city's beaches was rejected amid strong opposition from residents in other parts of the city.

The same year, a petition drive started by Sunset Beach residents failed to get enough signatures to put a referendum calling for a complete alcohol ban on the ballot.

The city then tried increasing the weekend police presence on Sunset Beach during spring break and summer, banning beer kegs and tightening parking regulations in Sunset Beach neighborhoods.

At first, many of the problems and the complaints abated, but this year even rowdier crowds, often numbering in the thousands, again flocked to Sunset Beach.

When police Chief Tim Casey said his department could no longer fully control the crowds and recommended the city consider banning alcohol on weekends and some holidays, the commission acted.

That ban, which City Attorney Maura Kiefer insists is not a ban but a "partial regulation of time and places" where drinking can take place, expires Oct. 2.

On Tuesday the commission, in a unanimous vote, tentatively renewed the ban from the first weekend in February through the first weekend in October.

Starting Oct. 3 through January, there will be no restriction on drinking on the beach.

Commissioner Alan Bildz, who represents Sunset Beach, strongly supported renewing the ban and showed little sympathy for businesses in his district.

"I feel bad for the businesses, but I feel bad for stagecoach drivers, too. We have cars and there are no more stagecoaches," Bildz said.

When the alcohol ban begins again the first weekend in February, the hours will be a bit shorter — ending at 4 instead of 8 p.m. — but otherwise will remain unchanged.

Beginning at 8 a.m., beachgoers, including residents, in the affected area are prohibited from consuming alcohol or bringing any open containers of alcohol onto the beach on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day.

The ban begins just south of the Island Inn at about 99th Avenue and extends south on Sunset Beach to the north side of the Sunset Chateau condominiums at about 85th Avenue.

It does not apply to Caddy's private portion of the beach, which extends to the waterline on the Gulf of Mexico.

The only other exception is at Sunset Vista Park and the Beach Pavilion, where beachgoers may consume beer and wine at permitted special events.

The City Commission will take a final vote on the matter Oct. 4.

Buzzkill for partiers: Leaders favor longer alcohol ban on Sunset Beach 09/24/11 [Last modified: Friday, September 23, 2011 4:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Strategic Property Partners launches website for Water Street Tampa

    Business

    Strategic Property Partners has launched its official website for Water Street Tampa, its 53-acre redevelopment project in downtown Tampa Tuesday.

    Strategic Property Partners on Tuesday announced the name of its new development: Water Street Tampa. [Photos courtesy of SPP]
  2. Is Mikhail Sergachev, who debuts with Lightning at Wednesday camp, ready for the NHL?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — When defenseman Mikhail Sergachev was taken ninth overall by the Canadiens in the 2016 NHL draft, a horde of Montreal media surrounded him for his first news conference.

    Mikhail Sergachev takes a shot during warmups prior to a game between the Canadiens and Arizona Coyotes in October in Montreal. [Getty Images]
  3. ReliaQuest CEO Brian Murphy named sole Tampa Bay winner in EY state entrepreneur contest

    Business

    ReliaQuest founder and CEO Brian Murphy was named one of nine winners statewide and the only one from the Tampa Bay area in the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 Florida Awards program. Murphy won in the IT security division after starting ReliaQuest in 2007. Five of the nine winners were from the Miami …

    Tampa's ReliaQuest founder and CEO Brian Murphy was named one of nine winners statewide and the only one from the Tampa Bay area in the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 Florida Awards program. Murphy won in the IT security division after starting ReliaQuest in 2007.
  4. Top pick Brendan McKay signing with Rays for $7M bonus

    Blogs

    The Rays are set to sign top pick 1B/LHP Brendan McKay for a bonus just over $7-million, the Tampa Bay Times has learned.

    McKay was the No. 4 overall pick in the June 12 draft as he starred as a two-way player leading Louisville to the College World Series.

    The deal is expected to be finalized …

    Brendan McKay was the No. 4 overall pick in the June 12 draft as he starred as a two-way player leading Louisville to the College World Series.
  5. Man found dead in Dunedin canal identified as missing 63-year-old

    Public Safety

    DUNEDIN — Pinellas County sheriff's deputies on Tuesday identified the man found floating in a Dunedin canal as the man who was reported missing last week.

    Charles P. Morris, 63, was found dead in a canal in Dunedin behind Cedar Creek Mobile Home Park, at 605 Michigan Blvd. around 3:48 p.m. Monday. He was reported missing June 21 after he was last seen leaving his home the night before to walk his dog. [ Courtesy of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]