Parked cars legally line both sides of Broadway in the Longbeach Village during season, and residents say that is a problem. They say that cars — usually belonging to diners at Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub and Moore’s Stone Crab Restaurant — sometimes block or are parked in their driveway. They worry emergency vehicles could have difficulty accessing the street.
Candidates for the Longboat Key Town Commission were sympathetic to residents’ concerns at a March 5 Longbeach Village Association debate, but they were not willing to say they would ban parking on both sides, or even one side, of Broadway when Association President Michael Drake asked how they would vote if the issue came before them.
“Michael, the easiest thing for me to do would be to pander,” said At-large Commissioner Terry Gans, who is running for the District 3 seat against Ray Rajewski, who was not present at the debate. “The police chief and fire chief have said that (emergency vehicle access) is not a problem.”
Gans said that people’s driveways shouldn’t be blocked and suggested calling police if that occurs, but said: “You have to find a way to accommodate both residents and businesses. That might not be the answer people are looking for.”
Irwin Pastor, who is running for an at-large seat against Armando Linde, agreed with Gans. He described his experience as owner of a business in New Jersey that did approximately 70% of its business during Memorial Day and Labor Day.
“If you create economic harm, there’s a good chance you might not have business here. I think you’ve got to co-exist,” he said.
“You’re talking about a matter of enforcement,” he said.
Earlier in the evening, Drake asked Gans why he voted in favor of Mar Vista’s expansion plan, citing existing parking issues.
Gans disagreed with the premise of the question, saying he never voted on the restaurant’s application, causing Village resident Samir Ragheb to argue that he was at the meeting in which Gans voted in favor of the application.
Later that evening, in an email to the Longboat Observer, Gans wrote:
“For the record, Dr. Ragheb’s recollection of my vote on Mar Vista is far more correct than mine. It was not my intent to mislead, but the result belies the intent. I have written a letter of apology to Dr. Ragheb, and I regret my error.”
Linde and Pastor both stated that they would not vote for a similar application.
“I get the feeling that the community does not want that to happen, and I should vote against it,” Linde said.
“You’re sensitive,” someone joked.
“I’m a good listener. The answer is ‘no,’” Pastor said.
For more information about parking and traffic issues discussed at the March 5 debate, visit YourObserver.com and search “Village debate.”
Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected]