New illegal beach parking trend grows

Illegal parking in Bradenton Beach becoming a big problem
Cars were illegally parked along Gulf Drive in Bradenton Beach for the second consecutive weekend on May 14. - Jason Schaffer | Sun

BRADENTON BEACH – A new parking trend at Cortez Beach is not only making it difficult for legally parked vehicles to maneuver, but is leaving Bradenton Beach police no choice but to write tickets until their hands cramp.

On Mother’s Day, May 8, drivers parked their vehicles along Cortez Beach on Gulf Drive from north to south behind cars that were legally parked in east-west spaces. Bradenton Beach police say they aren’t sure why this is happening now, after the height of tourist season in March, but on May 14, what they hoped was an isolated problem due to a busy Sunday repeated itself, resulting in plenty of tickets.

“We wrote over 100 tickets on Mother’s Day, and wrote at least 60 today,” said Officer Charles Marose of the Bradenton Beach Police Department, speaking of the May 14 repeat of the Mother’s Day parking pattern. Both Marose and Lt. Lenard Diaz said it probably started with a couple of people, then when others saw the new lane of cars, they just followed the pattern, resulting in a snowball effect. 

The penalty for illegal or double parking along the beach parking lots, as well as parking in grassy areas along Gulf Drive at Coquina Beach, is $75.

“I really don’t care; there are no spots available and they’re not towing, so we’ll just pay the ticket,” said Tom, who requested his last name not be used. Tom and his wife were on the Island for a three-day weekend May 14-16, visiting from Orlando.

Diaz also said the department had to tow several cars on Mother’s Day that were parked in the trolley turn-around area at Coquina Beach, an area that has clearly posted signs stating that cars aren’t even allowed to turn around there, much less park.

There are several options for beachgoers to avoid tickets and tows, yet still enjoy a day at the beach. The Anna Maria Island Trolley makes regular stops both north and southbound along Gulf Drive. The Old Town Tram, a golf cart shuttle, and the Monkey Bus can both be reached by phone for an arranged pickup.