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Plan to ban some parking on Sunset Beach raises problems

TREASURE ISLAND — A proposal to ban public parking on Sunset Beach's residential streets could mean the city would lose beach renourishment funds.

City Manager Reid Silverboard said Friday he plans to ask the City Commission to postpone its final vote on a resident parking permit plan until the end of October so he can investigate this latest development.

Nicole Elko, Pinellas County's coastal coordinator, recently informed Silverboard that the city's eligibility for federal beach renourishment money is based partly on the side-street public parking spaces on the north end of Sunset Beach.

The city has 122 public metered spaces on Sunset Beach, but most are clustered at the southern end of the beach: 55 spaces are located at 77th Avenue, south of the city's Beach Pavilion; another 43 spaces are located in a parking lot at 82nd Avenue; and another 10 parking spaces are located at Weckesser Park.

"The question is where the spaces have to be located," Silverboard said.

Currently, nonmetered, public parking is legal on both sides of residential streets on the east side of Gulf Boulevard on Sunset Beach.

The problem for residents, which the city has tried to address in its parking permit program , is that the streets are very narrow.

When cars are parked on both sides of the street, as occurs frequently on weekends, there is little if any room for emergency vehicles to pass through.

Residents also often find driveways blocked by beachgoers' cars.

Earlier this month, the City Commission gave its tentative approval to a plan that would effectively ban all nonresident public parking on those residential streets.

Parking permits would be issued to residents and their guests, but no one else, including other Treasure Island residents, would be allowed to park on the streets.

Now that plan may have to be scrapped, Silverboard said.

"This could change how we address the parking problem. Instead of permit system, we might look at idea of restricting parking on just one side of street," he said.

During debate at the June 3 commission meeting, Ka'Tiki owner Fred Stern strongly objected to the plan, accusing the city of destroying his and other beachfront businesses.

"We will find out about the constitutionality of this whole thing. I am not going to take this whole lying down," Stern said.

Stern told commissions they are "telling public at large we don't want you on Sunset Beach. You are sending a message loud and clear — we don't want you here."

Kim Driscoll said she and other residents are not against the beach businesses, but felt the parking situation is a "safety" issue. "People who park on my street leave their cars in front of my driveway, take their coolers and walk down to beach," she said.

Plan to ban some parking on Sunset Beach raises problems 09/13/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 15, 2008 3:35pm]
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