Commissioner voices dissent during discussion
tom vaught | sun
The sign at Gulf Boulevard regarding unloading would
come down if the commission has its way.
ANNA MARIA – If the city commission has its way, there will be no parking or stopping at the beach along Gulf Boulevard near a handicapped parking spot reserved for those wanting to watch sunsets.
The Anna Maria City Commission continued its discussion of parking issues last Thursday when Mayor SueLynn suggested they increase the fee for parking tickets and prohibit loading and unloading along the street ends at the beach.
Commissioner Gene Aubry asked what was wrong with that.
“We have a police force in this city that theoretically cruises the streets and watches what’s going on,” he said, adding that would prevent a large family from unloading their vehicle; then he became upset with the proposal.
“If he has six kids and needs to unload, what a bad situation,” Aubry said, mocking the idea. “What are we doing? What’s wrong with us?”
Commissioner Doug Copeland said he’s seen people unload for a large party on the beach and if those people want to go somewhere else to unload because they can’t here, so be it.
Aubry said people who live at the beach should be used to people using the beach.
“But we have that happen and they write letters,” Aubry said. “Okay, deal with the problem. We need to be nice.”
Webb was concerned because he has lived in Florida all his life.
“It’s really how we’ve always done it. You arrive at the beach, unload and then park your car,” Webb said. “It’s a change from the way we’ve done things in the past.”
Commissioner Dale Woodland said parking and unloading aren’t the big problem and they haven’t even defined the big problem yet.
“One is trespassing and we need to address it,” he said. “When someone comes off the beach and whizzes in a yard, those are things we shouldn’t need to include in a sign.”
Copeland argued the city needs to tell people where they don’t want the public to park.
“We could tow the cars and people would have to go all the way to town to get their vehicles,” he said. “We also need to increase parking fines.”
Webb called for a consensus to direct staff to prepare an ordinance to provide for towing of cars. City Attorney Jim Dye said they already have laws for towing from public roads. Webb asked what could happen if offenders block the driveways and Dye said they could tow for the homeowners. He said he could find no other local government that uses towing.
Aubry said they should raise the fines for parking in front of a driveway.
“If someone parks in front of a driveway and gets a $500 fine, he won’t do that again,” Aubry said. “That’s a bad thing to do and it’s dumb.”
They agreed to put up “No unloading” signs at the beach ends of Gulf Boulevard, Palm Avenue, Magnolia Avenue and Cedar Avenue after they have Dye draw up an ordinance.
During public comment, however, Aubry vented.
“I think we have a 'being nice' problem and I’m just disappointed in the attitudes that I hear,” he said. “There’s no reason for it. Be nice to your enemies because they can get on your side.
“People are trying to figure how to pay for their flood insurance and you’re worried about parking,” he added. “Rome is burning and you want to talk about parking at the beach.”
With that, he left the meeting at 7:08 p.m., but he returned a short while later before the meeting ended.