HOLMES BEACH – It’s been just over two weeks since the city’s new parking plan was enacted and commissioners are already discussing making changes after receiving criticism from some city residents, business owners and Manatee County residents.
The parking plan eliminated side of the street and right of way parking in some neighborhoods near the beach. Commissioners are scheduled at the Tuesday, June 23 work session to begin discussions on enacting permit parking in the areas where parking was eliminated.
The proposal being discussed is a modified version of a parking-by-permit proposal considered in 2016 by commissioners after a presentation by the city’s congestion committee. The proposal was vetoed by then-Mayor Bob Johnson and didn’t receive a super-majority vote from commissioners.
Current Mayor Judy Titsworth and Commissioner Pat Morton, who were both commissioners at the time, voted against the 2016 parking plan, but both have recently expressed support for limiting public parking in residential neighborhoods close to the beach while also finding a balance to accommodate residents in those neighborhoods.
While providing residential parking on the side of the street could alleviate some of the concerns expressed by residents, it doesn’t address the concerns of business owners.
Another proposal being considered by city commissioners in the near future is the possibility of changing the Holmes Beach Land Development Code to allow businesses and churches to charge for beachgoers using their lots for parking. While being able to accept donations for parking could help local churches suffering from a lack of donations due to COVID-19 shutdowns, some city business owners are still concerned that the lack of residential neighborhood parking and increase of commercial parking could result in a lack of parking spaces for their business patrons.
Utilizing church parking for access to beach access points where there are no facilities for visitors also is a cause for concern for some residents. The lack of street parking may keep cars out of the neighborhoods, but it’s not slowing down the foot traffic or eliminating issues such as trash and beach equipment left behind or a lack of restroom facilities for beachgoers, according to emails received by The Sun from concerned residents.
Titsworth also said she’s meeting with representatives from the Manatee County School District to discuss the possibility of using the Anna Maria Elementary School parking lot for overflow beach parking when available.
Manatee County commissioners are discussing their own ideas to remedy the issue, including the potential for a parking garage in Holmes Beach.
Currently, Manatee County offers a free park and ride service from the Beachway Shopping Plaza on 75th Street and Cortez Road in Bradenton to Manatee Beach in Holmes Beach on weekends. Riders can park their vehicles and take the bus to Anna Maria Island’s beaches without worrying about having to try to find parking. The bus runs hourly Friday through Sunday with pickup near the Wells Fargo Bank.