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Beach Beacon
Parking status changes near Hotel Zamora
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ST. PETE BEACH – Parking around the Hotel Zamora is going to get more difficult for nonresidents of the city.

After receiving complaints from neighborhood residents, city commissioners passed an ordinance on first reading Aug. 12 that amends the code relating to parking of vehicles, making the area available 24 hours a day for those with city “D” parking permits.

The streets affected are:

• 36th Avenue between Gulf Boulevard and East Maritana Drive

• Casablanca Avenue between 37th Avenue and the Pinellas Bayway

• East Maritana Drive between 37th Avenue and the Pinellas Bayway.

Before the proposed changes, parking was allowed in the area on a permit basis on one side of the street between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., but cars were often parked overnight.

“It (proposed ordinance) also re-installs 37th Avenue between Gulf Boulevard and the curve onto East Maritana Drive to no parking on each side,” said Dan O’Connor, administrative services supervisor for the city.

The amendments would also include a change in the parking status of 49th Avenue where unlimited parking has been allowed in the past. However, in recent months it has become a popular place for what is suspected to be valet parking operators.

Under the proposed ordinance, parking would be allowed only on the south side of the street on 49th Avenue. There also would be about eight metered parking spaces added on the north side of the street closer to Gulf Boulevard.

“On the weekend, the whole thing (49th Avenue) is full,” said O’Connor. “What’s happened is it has caused access issues to the rear properties. I think it would create a bad situation for the people who live on the east end of (49th Avenue) if you’ve got two large pickup trucks parked on either side and we need to get some emergency access through there. This (amendment) would create a solution to that.”

In January 2013, the Hotel Zamora, located at Gulf Boulevard and 37th Avenue, was granted a variance, allowing 69 on-site parking spaces instead of the 81 spaces required under the city’s land development code.

Submitted with the variance application was a letter from Premier Parking Ventures stating its ability to valet park 145 vehicles on-site by stacking vehicles back to back. In addition, Premier said it would rent nearby parking areas as needed for overflow parking.

The amendments in the proposed ordinance would prevent valet parking operators from using the neighborhood around the Hotel Zamora unless the vehicles have a “D” permit.

A second reading on the ordinance is expected at the Aug. 27 meeting.

City attorney

City commissioners selected Andrew Dickman of Naples as its next city attorney.

Dickman, a Tampa native, was one of nine applicants for the job and plans to relocate soon to Pinellas County.

He currently is practicing as a zoning and land use attorney following 10 years as an urban and regional planner. Dickman also serves as an adjunct professor at Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, where he teaches land use and environmental law.

City officials will be negotiating his contract in coming weeks.

In other action, commissioners:

• Authorized interim City Manager Elaine Edmunds to enter into an interlocal agreement with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office to provide law enforcement services through Sept. 30, 2015. The one-year cost is $2.214 million, which is a 2.54 percent increase over the current budget year.

• Approved an interlocal agreement for the creation of the county’s restructured Metropolitan Planning Organization. The new board, which will have one representative for the beaches, will be seated Sept. 10.

• Approved a settlement agreement of $190,000 with former St. Pete Beach police officer Todd R. Brien who sued the city over First Amendment violations after he was wrongfully fired by the previous city administration.

• Approved a special event application for the second annual Hot Summer Night Run Oct. 2 in Pass-A-Grille. The 5K and 10K runs will take place at sunset along Gulf Way between First and 16th avenues. Road closures also will be in effect on Eighth and Ninth avenues between Gulf Way and Pass-A-Grille Way.

• Agreed to modify a temporary use permit for a privately-owned parking lot at 3855 Gulf Blvd., striking the “special events only” clause from the uses allowable.

• Discussed the possibility of an amendment to the city’s ordinance governing dogs on the beach. The current ordinance prohibits dogs on beaches “abutting the Gulf of Mexico” but a situation surfaced recently involving an area popular with dog owners on the southern tip of Pass-A-Grille Way, which isn’t on the gulf. “It looks like a circus down there on the weekends,” said Commissioner Melinda Pletcher.
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