Not only has Siesta Public Beach been attracting its share of regular tourists, but it also has had a number of homeless people camping out, Sgt. Scott Osborne, who heads the Key’s Community Policing Station, has told Siesta Key Association members.
Although that information doesn’t seem at all improbable given the generally warmer weather of Florida’s Gulf Coast, what has made the situation odd, Osborne said, has been the propensity of homeless people to bury their belongings in the sand.
People who ply the beach with metal detectors have brought the matter to the Sheriff’s Office’s attention, Osborne added. One person found a buried bag that contained a laptop computer as well as clothing.
“So, they’re getting pretty creative,” Osborne said of the “campers.”
Some of the bags found beneath the sand have been brimming with belongings, he added.
Of course, Osborne pointed out, it is a violation of county code to camp overnight on the beach. That may explain why some of the homeless people have been trying to bury the evidence.
As far as general crime on the Key, Osborne told the Siesta Key Association board members and about 20 audience members Dec. 1 that things have been relatively quiet — in every sense of the word — since the end of Thanksgiving weekend.
He did mention, as the Pelican Press reported in an article last week, that the Nov. 23 Turkey Trot pub crawl was “probably the rowdiest night for the Village for the entire year.”
Ocean Boulevard apparently wasn’t the only rowdy place where people were celebrating the recent holiday period, according to SKA member Dave Thomas.
During that Dec. 1 SKA meeting, Thomas thanked Osborne for the regular patrolling of the Grand Canal over the past couple of months. However, Thomas said, he had seen a lot more boaters in the canal, many of whom apparently were not aware of the no-wake provision for vessels’ speed.
Osborne said the Sheriff’s Office installed a video camera on a canal dock about four weeks ago. Out of all the boat traffic it recorded in a two-week period, Osborne said he didn’t think any of the vessels were caught up on a plane.
Thomas responded that most of the violations he had observed had occurred between midnight and 4 a.m., and the offenders typically were young people.
Eliciting laughter, Thomas said, “I can’t get out of bed and get down to the dock with a flashlight” fast enough to get the registration numbers from the boats, so he could report them.
Osborne promised to pass along Thomas’ comments to the marine patrol deputies.
Then, SKA board member Deet Jonker reported that one night about two weeks ago, he had had a guest staying with him, and the guest had gone into the backyard about 1 a.m. When the guest turned on lights, he saw a boat running dark in the Grand Canal. The driver “gave it full power and got out of the way” immediately, Jonker said. “What they were doing and what they were casing … I don’t know, but it was suspicious.”
“That’s very suspicious,” Osborne said, adding that whenever anyone witnesses an incident like that, he should call the Sheriff’s Office immediately.
Those pesky short-term rentals
John Lally, the county’s code enforcement officer on the Key, reported to the Siesta Key Association Dec. 1 that he still was working to make people — including Realtors — aware of the county provision banning the rental of any residence more than once in a 30-day period.
Lally recently had had a discussion with a new Realtor on the Key. “(The Realtor) told me I was all wrong and that (Gov.) Rick Scott changed the law and they can rent their property out any time they want,” he said.
Although the Legislature this spring passed a law making that the situation for most counties, County Commissioner Nora Patterson explained to the audience that Sarasota County’s lawmakers had worked hard to make sure local ordinances governing short-term rentals could be grandfathered in; therefore, the short-term rental situation had not changed in Sarasota County.
A different sort of rental
As of early November, Siesta beachgoers have had a new option for settling themselves comfortably on the crystal sands: Jim and Amy Delaney opened J.A.C.K.’s Beach Chair Rental.
The company name, Jim Delaney told me, comes from the first letters of his and his wife’s names and the first initials of the names of his daughters, Claire and Kate. However, it has created a bit of confusion, he confessed.
“Everyone comes up to me and calls me ‘Jack,’” he said.
Delaney started coming to Florida on vacations in the 1970s, but Siesta quickly became his favorite destination. In fact, he and Amy were married on the Siesta beach six years ago. They purchased a local condo a couple of years ago because they wanted to eventually retire here.
They finally quit their jobs in Rochester, N.Y., Oct. 29 and made the move.
Delaney said they opened the beach chair/umbrellas rental service Nov. 11, his mother’s birthday. Anyone can call them to rent two chairs and an umbrella for $22 a day and have the equipment delivered to Accesses 3, 4 or 5. The Delaneys work from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week. The phone number is (585) 820-1242.
People also may email them at [email protected].