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Treasure Island may crack down on parking

TREASURE ISLAND — Nonresident, public parking on residential streets in the Sunset Beach area soon might be banned.

The city also is considering more than doubling the cost of parking fines citywide.

The City Commission agreed in a workshop last week to consider an ordinance that would prohibit parking by anyone except permitted residents and their designated guests.

The new parking rules, if approved, would go into effect Jan. 5, 2009.

The area on Sunset Beach that would be affected by the proposed ban is bordered on the west and north by Gulf Boulevard and on the south and east by Blind Pass Road.

Anyone who wanted to park in that area would have to buy a city permit and post it in their car. Cars without visible permits would get parking tickets.

Annual parking permits would cost $15, according to City Manager Reid Silverboard. Area residents could also request free time-dated temporary permits for guests.

Although many Sunset Beach residents are on record as favoring the proposed parking ban, Tony Amico, owner of Caddy's by the Sea restaurant and bar, strongly opposes it.

"I depend on parking on the public streets in Sunset Beach," Amico told the commission during the workshop discussion. "I am beginning to think you do not want Caddy's in business anymore."

One resident speaking at a recent commission meeting said Caddy's customers "impose" on residents by parking in front of their homes, blocking their driveways and often leaving trash on their lawns.

Caddy's used to be called the Driftwood and was built in 1947, Amico said.

Amico's shore-front business was recently restricted when the commission approved, on first reading, a swim zone along Sunset Beach that prohibits boats from anchoring too close to shore.

"I feel for the residents, but I don't think you should shut down my business," Amico said. "Why are you treating my business differently from the residents?"

Mayor Mary Maloof said the commission is trying to create a balance between the needs of area residents and the public, which can park in metered spaces along the beach. Caddy's also has several private parking lots.

"We are trying to give residents some abatement to the problem they have with parking," Maloof said.

Parking fines throughout the city also might increase dramatically.

The commission agreed during a recent workshop to consider increasing citywide parking fines from $20 to $40, or possibly even higher.

The commission expects to consider the new parking fee ordinance in September.

Silverboard said if the new fines are approved, the city could see a net increase of $45,000 in income.

The proposed $40 fine includes the state-regulated maximum parking fine of $30 plus a $10 surcharge to cover handling and court costs.

Commissioner Alan Bildz suggested that the city increase the surcharge to the state-allowed maximum of $15, which would bring the total parking fine to $45.

Only Commissioner Ed Gayton Jr. opposed the increased parking fines.

"We are getting a little carried away here. We want to be known as a friendly city. Does Treasure Island really want to be known as the only place in the county where you have to pay a $40 fine?" he asked.

Treasure Island may crack down on parking 08/26/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 2, 2008 3:02pm]
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