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Longboat Key Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020 6 months ago

Longboat Key commissioners to consider resident-permit parking proposal

The town commission will also consider increasing parking fines from $30 to $75
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

Town staffers have developed a draft ordinance for commissioners to discuss this month that would establish a resident-only parking system for Longbeach Village, something residents there have pushed to have established for years.

The town commission is scheduled to discuss the plan at a  Sept. 29 workshop meeting.

Based on commissioners’ direction at the workshop, Harmer said the ordinance will be scheduled for a first reading and then a final public hearing at two regular town commission meetings.

The proposed ordinance states the purpose of its resident-only parking program is to reduce hazard traffic conditions; protect residents from excessive noise and unreasonable burdens; preserve the value of private property; protect children and pedestrians; and promote traffic safety.

Since the town's public-beach parking has been closed, north end residents have become particularly concerned about beachgoers parking in neighborhoods or on private property. Of late, some Village parking has been cordoned off, in addition to beachfront parking lots. 

“The Town Commission finds and declares that it is in the best interest of the Town to control vehicular parking in the Longbeach Village residential neighborhood and limit parking via permit parking regulations,” the ordinance draft reads.

The resident-only parking proposal is limited to public rights of way within the Longbeach Village neighborhood area where parking is otherwise allowed along Broadway Street east of Palm Avenue.

Drivers without a permit would not be allowed to legally park their car in the resident-only parking permit area. Anyone failing to comply is subject to the penalties outlined in Chapter 72 of the town of Longboat Key Code of Ordinances.

The town currently issues $30 citations for parking in a restricted area, which is much cheaper than many nearby beaches. Harmer said the town commission will also consider increasing parking fines to $75 in September.

For years, people who live in the Village neighborhood have advocated for the establishment of a resident-only parking program. Residents even banded together to form a group called the Village Parking Committee.

“It's just been an absolute pleasure to be involved with the whole process, and to see everybody work together so well, even though the points of view and the perspectives were so so different,” resident Henry Smith said.

Many Longboaters have also acknowledged that many times beachgoers or restaurant patrons often flout the parking rules because of the low $30 fine.

“I spend a lot of time in big cities because I travel a lot, but $30 is what you pay to park in a lot of places,” Smith said. “So that's not much of a disincentive to some people [who choose to park illegally].”

While the Village’s proposed resident-permit parking program and increasing the town’s parking fine are up for consideration, there are exemptions to the proposals. The exceptions would allow for public safety vehicles, public service agency vehicles and contractors to park without a permit.

There would also be street exemptions, including the south side of Broadway Street and the east side of Lois Avenue, which are adjacent to commercially-zoned properties.

Under the terms of the proposal, property owners or tenants would fill out an application to the town manager for a resident, guest or temporary parking permit. The application requires a person’s name; mailing address; a valid identification with a photo; motor vehicle registration other identification as deemed acceptable by the town manager such as a utility bill or a copy of a lease.

“The Town may issue Resident, Guest or Temporary parking permits to qualified applicants upon the payment of the required fee to assist in recovering the costs related to the administration and operation of the Resident-Only Parking Permit program,” the proposed ordinance reads. “A schedule of fees for the purchase of parking permits shall be adopted by resolution.”

The town plans to use a decal that would attach to the inside of the lower corner rear window on the driver’s side.

Each property would be limited to one resident parking permit and one guest parking permit per year. Any applications for temporary parking permits would need to be submitted at least three business days before an event.

If the measure is passed, resident and guest parking permits can be purchased for the upcoming year starting in October of the current year.

The town would not issue refunds for any unused portion of the year due to non-use or relocation.

It remains to be seen what kind of changes the proposal could undergo after commissioners, residents, business owners and restaurant owners weigh in too.

The resident-permit parking proposal for the Village comes after commissioners asked the town Planning, Zoning and Building Department in June to draft an ordinance.

After the town commission’s workshop meeting on Sept. 29, the next town commission meeting is scheduled for Oct. 5, which would be the earliest commissioners could have a first reading on the resident-permit parking proposal.

Smith said he is appreciative of how everyone has stayed patient as the town moves toward establishing resident-permit parking in the Village.

“The final result and the timeline for the final result will put in place the RPP before the old normal returns, before the pandemic is over and before the high season returns, and before the three restaurants are operating again in full capacity,” Smith said. “[It's] just in time to prevent any serious injury or heaven forbid death to a pedestrian or bicyclist or a runner or another motorist, and will protect the quality of life in the Village.”

Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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