Bobbi Tuccinardi, owner of Sassy Hair Salon, recently discovered her employees lost access to a parking lot they’ve used for four years. The parking lot at Beach Access No. 5 is restricted to beachgoers.
“What if I have a glass of wine at the beach after work, does that make me a beachgoer?” she asked.
Sarasota County plans to install signs at each of Siesta Key’s beach accesses notifying people that if they aren’t heading to the beach, they’ll have to find another place to park. Tuccinardi said a county parks and recreation staff member told her the signs would be posted by November.
Sassy employees regularly use the lot at Beach Access 5 to avoid the two-hour limit on parking spaces along Ocean Boulevard, tickets for parking in the right of way or a long walk to the municipal lot at night.
“It’s really about safety,” said Tuccinardi’s daughter, Jeris. The salon’s secretary would be at risk when making cash deposits, she said.
The county code allows parks and recreation staff to post signage in lots they manage, if non-use parking becomes a nuisance.
Siesta Key Association President Catherine Luckner said she supports enforcement, on the grounds that the taxpayers would essentially be supporting a business’ operations. Village businesses paid thousands of dollars annually for parking spaces in the municipal lot before county commissioners voted to end the Siesta Key Village Parking District.
“At some point, for enforcement to work, there has to be signage,” Luckner said.
Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson said she knows the owner of Foxy Lady Siesta Key, whose employees also use the Beach Access 5 lot, but agrees with enforcement of the ordinance.
“My heart’s with the businesses,” Patterson said. “But, it’s not appropriate to just commandeer spots intended for public use.”
County staff is working with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office on how to enforce the regulations, which the ordinance doesn’t outline.
Employees at the salon have tried to coordinate a buddy system for walking to the county lot after the sunsets, as well as carpooling. But, coordinating their schedules makes both difficult, staff said.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do if they put the signs up,” Tuccinardi said. “But, I think it was wrong to come to us with a problem without a solution.”