TREASURE ISLAND — Despite the nearly 8,000 visitors who jammed Sunset Beach over the Memorial Day weekend, there appeared to be few major law enforcement problems.
"It was a pretty uneventful holiday weekend," police Chief Tim Casey said Tuesday. "Our efforts are working very well."
On Sunday the crowd reached about 2,800 by midafternoon. About 2,500 people were at the beach Saturday, and Memorial Day saw about 2,300, Casey said.
The beachgoers were concentrated either at or north of Caddy's on the Beach restaurant and bar.
Over the entire weekend, police arrested eight people, asked for IDs from more than 200 people, and issued 40 traffic and parking tickets.
During the past year, the city implemented a series of measures to reduce irritants that had angered residents in this southern Treasure Island community. Neighbors complained about heavy traffic, blocked streets and driveways, drunkenness and obnoxious behavior — including urinating in residential yards and sexual trysts in beach dunes — among some beachgoers.
First, the city banned beer kegs on the beach. Then surveillance cameras were set up north and south of Caddy's.
Casey said the cameras primarily alert police to swim zone violations by boaters and identify people with illegal glass containers.
"The cameras have been a great deterrent. The people know they are there," Casey said.
Plus, the city sharply increased police patrols along the beach and Sunset Beach streets. Both marked and unmarked police vehicles and patrol officers on foot and on bicycles monitored weekend crowd activity on the beach.
In addition to the increased police presence, the city placed more trash bins on the beach both north and south of Caddy's, which also installed portable toilets on the beach.
In March, the City Commission restricted weekend parking to only one side of east-west residential streets. That, Casey said, "has worked phenomenally well."
Previously, beach visitors filled side streets with their cars, often blocking driveways and making it difficult for emergency vehicles to maneuver.
Most of the eight Memorial Day weekend arrests were for underage drinking.
One arrest involved a fight at Caddy's. Another beachgoer was taken into custody for observation and treatment for substance abuse under the state's Marchman Act.
A resident was issued a code violation for selling parking spaces on his property. And a number of cars were towed for blocking driveways and parking in banned areas.
Many Sunset Beach residents blame Caddy's for attracting crowds of young and often rowdy beachgoers.