Starting Feb. 1, Longboat Key police will be empowered to write traffic tickets behind the gates of the Bay Isles community.
“If you drive normally and safely the way you do anywhere else, then you’ve got nothing to worry about,” safety committee chair for the HOA Mark Hullinger said. “It’s only if you violate the stop signs, speed limit or the crosswalks that you are going to have a problem.”
In April 2022, the town was approached by Bay Isles in hopes of exploring an agreement with the Homeowners’ Association for non-criminal traffic enforcement on their private roads.
Seeking the agreement came as advice from the HOA’s legal counsel as they were discussing solutions to traffic issues in the community, Hullinger said.
As a private gated community, the town does not provide that service to the neighborhood. To do so, under Florida statute, a formal agreement approved by both the HOA board and the town must be executed.
On Nov. 14, the board approved the agreement before it was moved on to commissioners.
Some residents have said speeding on Harbourside Drive has been an issue for years where part of the road is four lanes and the other part is a winding two-lane stretch. In a traffic study the community conducted in 2012, results showed that about three-fourths of drivers were speeding in the gated community.
“Over the years folks have kind of taken the stop signs as a suggestion rather than mandatory,” Hullinger said. “They’ve kind of treated the speed limit as a suggestion, and we’ve even had issues with people driving through occupied crosswalks where pedestrians are present.”
In 2011, a safety committee was formed by the HOA to look at the issue. In 2019, speed humps were installed by the group.
The agreement recognizes the town’s current service level, which includes periodic law enforcement patrols through the gated community. Under the agreement, the town’s police officers are able to take enforcement action on the private roads while patrolling the area.
Initially, the term for the agreement is five years. At the end of that period, the agreement will automatically renew. If necessary, the town or the neighborhood can decide to terminate the agreement without cause with a 90-day notice.
Additionally, the agreement includes the provision that the HOA is able to schedule specific traffic enforcement. The association would then be responsible for compensating the town for the time and work of the barrier island’s police officers.