There are billboards around west Pasco for a restaurant in Port Richey touting, among other things, free sunsets. It's a clever ploy for the business at the mouth of the Pithlachascotee River in light of controversy surrounding new parking charges at Pasco County parks.
Just one thing. The Pasco County Commission attempted to appease waterside businesses in Hudson earlier this month when it amended its recent parking rules to stop enforcement after 5 p.m. It was an answer to the undocumented claims that the new parking charge would chase away customers.
The top concern was commerce, Commissioner Jack Mariano volunteered last week. That concern was misplaced. It should have been focused on all constituents, not just the vocal objectors.
In rushing to quiet the protests in Hudson, commissioners managed to create dueling parking regulations and the potential for chirping from other locales. The 5 p.m. rule applies only to Robert K. Strickland Memorial Park at Hudson Beach, which sits in close proximity to the Inn on the Gulf and Sam's Hudson Beach Bar. Parking fees at other county coastal parks, most notably Anclote River Park and Robert K. Rees Memorial Park at Green Key, do not end when the sunsets near. Why? Because those parks aren't near lounges/restaurants profiting from the beach crowds.
It's simply unfair to ask park patrons to pay a $2 fee to watch the sunset in Holiday, but not in Hudson. The county needs to establish uniform rules. Buying a beer at a beachside bar shouldn't be the prerequisite for a break on parking fees.
The commission admitted it must take another stab at its parking rules for a separate reason: Beachgoers parked in spots reserved for boat trailers. "When we did this two weeks ago, we messed up,'' acknowledged Commissioner Ann Hildebrand.
That being said, the commission should do more than fix its trailer-parking. It should extend the same end-of-the-day courtesies in Hudson to the rest of its coastal parks. Even Mariano said he wouldn't object.
Good thing. Sunsets should be free from every county-owned spot in west Pasco, not just in Commission District 5.