TREASURE ISLAND — City leaders here have moved closer to restricting alcohol on Sunset Beach.
The City Commission voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of an ordinance that would make the popular beach dry between 8 a.m. and sunset on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
The vote came after more than two hours of public comment and after a majority of council members said they weren't in favor of restricting alcohol on all city beaches, as originally proposed.
"I'm willing to give some help to Sunset Beach," said Commissioner Carol Coward. "It seems to be centralized to that area."
Complaints about rowdy crowds at Sunset Beach are not new, but residents and officials say it has been particularly bad this spring.
Two weeks ago, City Manager Reid Silverboard and police Chief Tim Casey recommended the commission change the alcohol rules.
Dozens of residents spoke for and against the restrictions.
Longtime resident Marie Barba said she never thought she'd support any type of ban on drinking on the beach.
The past few months have changed her mind.
"It's a good compromise," Barba said. "Last week I had to break up a fight. It is reaching critical proportions."
Resident Angela Corson, wearing a homemade necklace that said "No Dry T.I." and "Keep your Freedom," said the problem can be solved with existing laws.
"Passing a new law does not solve the problem," she said. "It's very rare that once we lose a freedom we ever get it back."
Other residents said they fear that if alcohol is restricted on Sunset Beach, it will simply prompt the partiers to move to a different beach in the city.
Tuesday's action was a first reading of the ordinance, meaning it will come up for a final vote in two weeks.
Kameel Stanley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8643.
This story was changed to reflect the following correction: Angela Corson spoke at Tuesday's commission meeting. Her last name was misspelled in a story on Wednesday.