TREASURE ISLAND — A number of commercial parking lots in the city are actually illegal under current zoning regulations that, if enforced, could severely affect operations of beachfront restaurants, hotels, and even the city itself.
Among existing parking lots that could be shut down under current rules are multiple lots owned by Caddy's and used primarily for valet parking.
The city is unsure whether many long-existing parking lots are legal. Those lots include the Lions Club parking lot across from 9300 West Gulf Blvd.; a lot at 9611 Gulf Blvd. used by the Captain Kosmakos restaurant; the Island Inn lot across from 9980 Gulf Blvd.; a lot used by the Bilmar and Sloppy Joe's across from 10650 Gulf Blvd.; lots on both sides of Kingfish Drive and used by nearby restaurants, offices, a marina and charter boats; a lot on 106th Avenue serving Pirate's Square; and the Treasure Island Beach Club lot across from 11750 Gulf Blvd.
The city-owned lot in front of the Sunset Vistas Condo Hotel at 12000 Gulf Blvd. was never permitted and is listed as vacant land by the Pinellas County property appraiser. At one time it was used for metered public parking but is not listed in the Comprehensive Plan as part of the city's park or beach access inventory.
The City Commission hopes to begin modernizing citywide parking regulations during a at 5 p.m. meeting today with its Planning and Zoning Board.
"Our zoning code makes a lot of these parking areas illegal. The city needs to look at our parking code and bring it up to date," City Manager Reid Silverboard said Tuesday.
The issue of the city's rules governing parking lots first came to light last year when Sunset Beach residents complained about the legality of some of Caddy's parking lots, particularly those located on residentially zoned land.
Sunset Beach residents are expected to present a petition to the commission Wednesday calling for the city to strictly enforce its present regulations.
City officials maintain "code enforcement action on any parking should not be selective but rather (based on) a systematic review of all seemingly stand-alone parking lots on a citywide basis to ensure fairness and equal application of the code."
Several months ago, the City Commission directed Silverboard to compile a report on all parking lots in the city.
In the process, Silverboard said it was discovered that many of the parking regulations were outdated.
Some parking lots actually were created before Treasure Island was incorporated as a city.
Also, land development regulations changed over the years and redefined what kind of parking was allowed in the city's various zoning categories.
Currently, there is no zoning district in the city that allows a stand-alone parking lot as a permitted or special exception use.
Instead, parking lots can be placed only as "accessory uses" on the same property as the business or structure served.
There is a special exception for "off-site parking" in the commercial and resort facilities districts, but it must be located within 100 yards of the main commercial property and can be granted only by the City Commission.
However, the city's Commercial General District prohibits stand-alone parking lots, but does allow parking garages. Presently, there are none in the city.
"Does this make sense?" asked City Planner Lynn Rosetti in a report to Silverboard.
Also at issue is when and where cars can be charged a fee for parking on a lot.
"Our code at best is not clear," Silverboard said.