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Sunset Beach parking violators to risk ticket and a tow

TREASURE ISLAND — More restrictive parking regulations on Sunset Beach will begin within the next two weeks.

Violators, even if they are residents, will have their cars towed, police Chief Tim Casey told the City Commission on Tuesday.

One-side-only parking on east-west residential streets will be enforced only on weekends and three major holidays: Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.

"This is a good plan and I am glad to see this done," said Commissioner Alan Bildz, who represents the Sunset Beach area.

At least one resident doesn't agree.

"Everything is working quite well right now,'' Heidi Horak said. "You are really going to upset the apple cart. I don't like it at all."

She talked about the streets between 95th Avenue and Blind Pass Drive, where parking will be restricted, and said her street, 88th Avenue, will have nine parking spaces on her side while her neighbors across the street will have no parking at all.

Horak, chairwoman of the city's Planning and Zoning Board, also objected that the commission planned to only informally approve the new regulations during a workshop session and would not take a formal vote at a regular meeting.

"This is the first time you have looked at this report, the first time you have talked about it,'' she said. "All these people are going to be affected by it and they will have no opportunity to come back and talk to you about it."

City Manager Reid Silverboard said he is authorized to change permitted parking areas at any time.

Caddy's owner Tony Amico suggested that the real reason for the parking restrictions is not safety, but to reduce the number of parking spaces available to Caddy's customers.

City officials denied that charge.

Both Caddy's and the city were targeted last month in a lawsuit filed by a group of Sunset Beach residents who contend that Caddy's is operating illegal parking lots and the city is failing to enforce its codes.

Surprisingly, and in sharp contrast to the nearly standing-room- only crowd at a special workshop on commercial parking lots this month, there were only 10 residents in the audience Tuesday.

"Last week, we had people in here saying parking is a terrible problem. So who's right?" asked Commissioner Carol Coward.

"There isn't going to be 100 percent satisfaction on parking in Sunset Beach. It is absolutely impossible," added Commissioner Phil Collins. "If it works, great. If it doesn't, we'll have to go back to the drawing board, but we have to try something."

Residents' complaints about heavy traffic, blocked streets and driveways, and drunkenness and obnoxious behavior among some beachgoers escalated during spring break last spring and continued throughout the summer.

For several years, the city had suggested ways to restrict parking on neighborhood streets but could not get agreement from residents.

The state requires that the city provide about 47 public spaces on Sunset Beach streets in order to continue to qualify for beach renourishment funds.

"This is our best recommendation for Sunset Beach," Casey told the commission. "Parking has been debated at great length over the past several years. We decided the best method is to keep one side of the streets open to parking. We believe there will be a minimal impact."

Casey, fire Chief Charlie Fant and Public Works Director Jim Murphy selected the particular street sides that would be closed to parking based on the maximum number of spaces available on each street. The parking plan is posted on the city's Web site —

Three signs announcing the new regulations will be posted on each residential street, with enforcement probably starting the first week in April, Casey said. Illegally parked cars will be ticketed and towed.

"It would be unproductive to just give a ticket," Casey said.

Sunset Beach parking violators to risk ticket and a tow 03/22/10 [Last modified: Monday, March 22, 2010 3:31pm]
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