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Sunset Beach parking rules debut with five tows

TREASURE ISLAND — Park on the wrong side of the street in Sunset Beach on weekends and it could quickly become a very expensive day at the beach.

Owners of five cars that were towed found out the hard way Saturday, said Treasure Island police Chief Tim Casey.

The price of a ticket? $40.

The cost of getting your car out of impound? Up to $130.

"We saw police officers knocking on doors in the neighborhoods to try to find the car owners and give them a chance to move their cars," said Mike Mugharbel, towing supervisor for Seminole Towing and Recovery, one of several towing services police called to the beach.

Mugharbel said towing fees are set by Pinellas County — a base fee of $100 to hook up the offending car, and a $3-per-mile charge for up to 10 miles.

Signs announcing new weekend parking restrictions were erected Friday, but the rules were not enforced until Saturday.

Last month, the City Commission approved barring cars from weekend parking on certain sides of east-west residential streets in Sunset Beach.

The action was taken after Sunset Beach residents complained that beachgoers parking on residential streets block access by emergency vehicles.

At the time, Tony Amico, owner of Caddy's on the Beach, complained that the city was targeting his customers and called for restrictions to be imposed every day rather than just on weekends.

New restrictions apply 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays, Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.

The one-side-only parking regulations affect 15 streets on the northern end of Sunset Beach. No parking is allowed on the north side of 95th, 93rd, 88th, 86th avenues and Bay Plaza to East Bay. Streets where parking is prohibited on the south side are: 94th, 92nd, 91st, 90th, 89th, 87th and 85th avenues, the north part of East Bay Drive, 86th Terrace and the portion of Blind Pass Drive off West Gulf Boulevard.

An estimated 2,700 to 2,900 people crowded the beach Saturday. About 1,500 were congregating north of Caddy's, while only a few hundred were south of the beach bar's property line. The rest were on Caddy's property, according to police.

Because of rain, the beach was virtually empty Sunday.

In addition to the five cars towed for improper parking, the city issued another 29 tickets for other parking violations, as well as eight citations for bringing glass containers to the beach.

Three boats were cited for intruding into the restricted swim zone.

Four people were arrested and taken to jail Saturday: a Treasure Island resident charged with disorderly conduct on Caddy's property; two people, one from Bradenton and the other from Orlando, who were charged with underage possession of alcohol; and an Odessa resident charged with resisting arrest while being cited for urinating in public.

Sunset Beach parking rules debut with five tows 04/20/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 20, 2010 4:53pm]

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