Citations and warnings dwindle as neighborhood, visitors get the message about where parking is allowed.
Longbeach Village residents Carla and Pete Rowan are pleased they advocated for a resident-permit parking program in their neighborhood to alleviate issues often attributed to beachgoers or patrons of neighborhood restaurants.
It took some time to get it right, they said, as visitors became more experienced with the town’s rules that took effect at the start of the year and signs went up to explain that the neighborhood's streets are generally regulated by a permit system.
“Less than a year later, we think it’s going quite well now,” Carla Rowan said.
After years of discussion and several interim steps in the residential enclave on the north end of the island, the town pressed ahead in January with resident permits for curbside parking, first with large electronic signs on Broadway Street and weeks of written warnings from police instead of $75 citations. Standard street signs were added as a means to inform drivers from outside the neighborhood of the rules.
Both warnings and citations have dwindled in the last six months, town records show.
“The town took on an incremental approach to signage,” Planning, Zoning and Building Director Allen Parsons said. “The intention over time was to try to have the least amount of signage that would be effective.”
The public can park on Lois Avenue or Broadway Street directly adjacent to Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant or the Shore Longboat Key.
As of Sept. 23, people in the town have purchased 116 resident parking permits and 98 guest parking permits. The $6,420 in revenue has covered the initial start-up and operational costs of the approximate $5,000 yearly cost to run the program. It includes decals, signs, informational material and staff overhead.
On Oct. 4, Parsons did not have an exact amount for how much the program would cost in 2022. However, he did say it would cost less than the initial $5,000 startup because of the signs already in place.
Each parking permit costs $30. Town staff is not recommending a price increase for the permits in the second year of the program.
The town estimates there are 290 eligible properties in the Village that can purchase resident or guest parking permits.
Parsons said some Longboat Key residents who do not live in the Village had requested more public parking in the neighborhood to allow for greater public access to the Linley Street boat ramp. He said some of the restaurant customers wanted more parking, too.
“There really is limited parking, unless you’re getting there early or just happen to be lucky,” Parsons said.
Some residents who spoke before the Town Commission on Oct. 4 mentioned how restaurant employees and contractors took up the limited public parking along Lois Avenue and Broadway Street.
Mar Vista and the Shore must utilize their private parking under the new permit system.
The Chiles Group, which owns Mar Vista, was planning to use a historic cottage to permanently sit at 6920 Gulf of Mexico Drive. The cottage would operate as a satellite office to create a parking lot at the site with 88 spaces. Plans approved by the Planning and Zoning Board in February 2021 call for Mar Vista employees to use 24 of the parking spaces and customers would use the remaining 64.
During peak times, Mar Vista plans to have its current valet company use a golf cart to shuttle employees and customers between the remote lot and restaurant. The golf cart will charge next to the onsite office when not in use.
The project to build the parking lot is not complete.
“Smart businesses tell their employees to park far away because they want other customers to park close,” At-Large Commissioner BJ Bishop said. “So, I would hope that perhaps a conversation with people who own retail establishments that aren’t that smart maybe to be encouraged to do what they could to hopefully increase their customers’ opportunities to park close.
“But, it’s public parking, and short of the owners of those two establishments deciding that their customers matter more than their staff, I’m not sure how much we can do with that situation.”
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