TREASURE ISLAND — At least one city commissioner will not be happy with attempts to update Treasure Island’s resident parking permit program until it includes a way for business owners to park for free at certain metered beach parking areas.
Since 1999, the city has sold permits to allow residents to park for free at designated, metered beach access parking areas. Under the current ordinance, each property owner can buy one permit for $45 a year.
The permits are plastic hangars, or hang-tags, designed to be hung on the rear-view mirror. There is no provision for replacement of a parking pass.
At a Feb. 18 meeting, Assistant City Manager Amy Davis told commissioners that proposed changes will make it much easier for residents and staff to determine eligibility. The permit program excludes lots whose inclusion would negatively affect the city’s eligibility to receive state beach nourishment funds.
Davis added that in order to address commissioners’ concerns from an earlier work session, staff revised the ordinance to permit homeowners to purchase two annual permits rather than one.
In order to qualify for two permits, a homeowner will have to show they have at least two vehicles registered to a Treasure Island address. Those who own multiple properties are considered as one household eligible for only two passes.
Currently, a property owner receives a hang-tag when purchasing an annual permit, which can be transferred between vehicles to provide flexibility. However, Davis said after considering how the program may change in the future, the city wants flexibility to react to new technology, new ideas, or if there is an issue with hang-tags. She said the tags don’t work for motorcycle owners, for example.
Commissioner Saleene Partridge said she likes the idea of using a more modern modality to provide permits, because she likes to take a golf cart to the beach to be environmentally conscious.
Staff is currently working on a different method of providing a pass, such as a sticker, Davis noted. Stickers may not be available until next year.
Commissioner Heidi Horak questioned why her concern about business owners deserving an opportunity to purchase a beach parking pass was not addressed, even though she brought it up at the work session.
“We are batting around another idea for that,” Davis responded.
Horvak said she was concerned “because I don’t want any discrimination” against businesses.
Davis noted the resolution currently in effect clarifies that owners of commercial property already qualify to purchase a residential pass.
Horvak noted, however, that business owners who don’t own their property, but lease or rent, are not eligible for a parking permit. “I think that’s discriminatory,” the commissioner said.
She also questioned if a business has multiple owners how a city resident could be identified to qualify for a permit.
“How much staff time are we going to spend digging in to try and figure out who really owns that property?” she said. “Three-quarters of businesses downtown will not be able to take advantage of the parking pass program and they will not be happy.”
Commissioner Tyler Payne said the onus of providing residency should be on the property owner and not city staff.
Commissioner Deborah Toth suggested a commercial parking pass program could be put on a future workshop agenda for consideration.
Commissioners unanimously approved changes to the residential parking pass program, with staff to come back with a similar ordinance addressing commercial property owners at a later date.