TREASURE ISLAND — Sunset Beach residents are considering filing a class-action lawsuit against the city for failing to protect them against what they describe as the "adverse effects and impacts" of the popular Caddy's beachfront restaurant.
A 93-signature petition demanding enforcement action against Caddy's was presented to the city by Commissioner Alan Bildz during a workshop Wednesday between the City Commission and the Planning and Zoning Board.
Bildz, who represents Sunset Beach, said the residents believe "for the last several years the city of Treasure Island has inappropriately accommodated and facilitated the growth of Caddy's by not enforcing the city's land use regulations."
"They told me they have too much to lose and desire to carry this forward in the courts," Bildz said.
He did not sign the petition, but his wife, Patricia, did.
The petitioners complained that Caddy's location in a predominantly residential neighborhood has damaged their property values and adversely affected the "public health, safety and welfare of the residents."
Sunset Beach residents have continually complained about the behavior of beachgoers who they feel are attracted to the area by Caddy's presence. The petition repeats many of those complaints: traffic congestion, inadequate parking, intrusion and littering on neighborhood side streets, public urination, and trespassing onto private residential properties.
Caddy's has operated at 9000 W Gulf Blvd. under a variety of different owners for decades. This year, beginning during spring break and continuing throughout the summer, crowds grew to the thousands on many weekends.
The city increased police patrols, installed temporary toilets and most recently voted to ban most beer kegs on the public beach.
At one point in Wednesday's discussion, Caddy's owner Tony Amico lamented: "I am trying to be a good neighbor, and you are making it very tough on me," referring to the continuing neighborhood complaints.
The commission did not directly address the issues raised in the petition and tried to focus instead on the workshop topic — regulating commercial parking lots.
At issue were a large number of commercial lots that do not meet current land use codes. City officials said some appear to be grandfathered, while others are illegal. The city plans to research the lots to determine their status.
The commission directed city staffers to develop new regulations for parking lots that will be reviewed by the planning and zoning board and eventually by the commission, but new rules and widespread code enforcement are not expected to be in place until next spring.
At the end of the meeting, Caddy's owner Amico asked the city to "seriously" consider buying his business.
"If I make Caddy's available at a reasonable price, would the city want to buy it?" Amico asked the commission. He said that would enable the city to close the beach bar and restaurant and "alleviate all the problems."
Mayor Bob Minning, obviously surprised, responded that the commission would first have to find a way to raise the money and then determine whether there is sufficient interest in the city to take such action.