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Beach parking comes under fire again
Commissioner says residents can’t get cars out of driveways
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TREASURE ISLAND – More than a year after implementing a successful one-side street parking policy in Sunset Beach, the issue is again before the City Commission.

This time, Commissioner Alan Bildz is leading the charge for permit parking that would allow for residents only to park on the narrow side streets. Two spaces for nonresidents would be available on each street, Bildz said, which would meet minimum standards for state beach renourishment funding.

Bildz told fellow commissioners at an April 5 workshop that he and other residents of Sunset Beach have difficulty getting in and out of their driveways due to beach visitors parking across from their driveways.

“If you own a home on Sunset Beach, you want to be able to leave from your driveway and when you return you want to be able to get back into your driveway to your home,” Bildz said. “You can’t park across from somebody’s driveway and allow them to get out. It’s just common sense.”

Current state law prohibits a vehicle from parking in front of a driveway, but it is not illegal to park on the street across from a driveway.

More than a year ago, Sunset Beach residents petitioned the city to find a solution to clogged streets caused by weekend beachgoers. Parked cars caused serious narrowing of the streets and prevented emergency vehicles from getting through.

On March 16, 2010, the City Commission approved a one-side of the street parking policy. The regulations apply to Saturday, Sunday and certain holidays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

According to Police Chief Tim Casey, the policy has worked out well for both beach visitors and residents.

“Having now had the opportunity to monitor the effectiveness of our one-side restricted parking, in my opinion implementing a local law that prohibits parking across from a driveway on the opposite side of the street would fundamentally undermine the integrity and success of our existing parking code,” Casey said in a report to commissioners. “By (making a change) we will create a problem far greater than what we have.”

Bildz said the past policy, which allowed two public spaces per street, makes more sense.

“”We had a plan (prior to the current policy) that allowed two public spots and the rest was by residential permit,” said Bildz, “and it met the needs of beach renourishment requirements. I think we need to go back to this. It was well-researched and could be implemented easily.”

Casey said to start a permit parking policy could cost as much as $15,000.

“Will permit parking work?” Commissioner Gail Caldwell asked Bildz.

“We don’t know if it will solve the problem,” Bildz said. “It would be just a step in the right area.”

Mayor Bob Minning said special privileges cannot be given to Sunset Beach residents.

“If we consider this, we’ve got to consider all of the residents of Treasure Island,” said Minning. “(Sunset Beach) is not a gated community and we have to grant access.”

Commissioners decided to retrieve plans from the past and discuss the issue further at an upcoming workshop.
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