INDIAN ROCKS BEACH — Residents dissatisfied with proposed parking rules thanked city commissioners for proposing fixes at the commission’s April 13 regular meeting. The commission has struggled to write parking rules for more than a year.
“Over the past couple of months, you’ve listened to homeowners and I compliment you for that,” said Mark Bodine, manager of Cameron Cove Resort. He worries that vacation rental owners on his property won’t have sufficient parking under the rules.
According to City Attorney Randy D. Mora, he and City Manager Gregg Mims came up with the new amendments after hearing complaints from residents. The city has struggled to streamline the parking permit process; it now assigns 1,100 permits to fewer than 75 parking spaces.
The proposed amendments also address misunderstandings over proposed beach access parking, decals, and hang tags, which many residents felt was just too confusing.
Here are the proposed changes, which can be found on the city’s homepage at www.indian-rocks-beach.com. According to Mims, the commission will vote on the first reading next month and the second reading in June.
• Where vehicles launching a boat require a city parking decal, “that requirement has been removed,” Mora said. “You still have to be a resident and property owner, but the vehicle your decal is on need not be the same vehicle you launch your boat with.”
• The second issue: “Hang tags that were required for temporary beach access, the city is out of the business of issuing hang tags,” Mora said. “Anyone can park in an appropriate spot on the beach access that is a property owner spot, or a non-resident property owner spot, for up to three nights in a row.”
• Parking by permit decals: “Property owners who are year-round residents, with sufficient proof of your property tax showing that you own the property, can get as many decals as necessary for the vehicles that are directly registered to that location,” Mora said.
Pickleball puts the city in a pickle
The solution to ongoing arguments between players over limited pickleball court availability could be assuaged by adding four more such courts in the city’s parks. That’s the suggestion of Mims.
“If we want to convert two tennis courts to pickleball courts, we get at least four more there,” Mims said April 13. “My only concern is success brings more people … if you build it, they’ll come.”
The never-ending contretemps between Indian Rocks residents and so-called pickleball “outsiders” has become so heated at Kolb Park that residents met recently to discuss possible solutions they could present to the City Commission.
“We have always welcomed all the players to our pickleball courts,” Maria Heshmati of La Hacienda Drive told the commission. “Unfortunately, there have been several altercations at the court where a non-resident disrespected our residents. Also, the non-resident players disrespected one of our best city employees.”
Indian Rocks Beach resident Magdil Hamid, a member of the pickleball player’s group, suggested limiting court time to certain hours or days; providing court keys to residents only; and building more pickleball courts in the parks. He also suggested creating a pickleball league, for a sport he said is outpacing tennis in popularity.
“This is the fastest growing sport in the U.S.; tennis is dying,” Hamid said. “There were 1,000 pickleball players who played in one day in Tampa. We want to ask you to help us find the optimum option that will please us,” he said. “We really have the right to have the first right to these courts.”
The commission rejected passing out keys and other limiting of access to the public courts. The city’s parks are partly funded through the Penny for Pinellas sales tax fund, which means they must be accessible to everyone. Not only that, but Mims said there is no way to control who gets keys and who copies them for friends and family.
In the end, the commission agreed to let Mims propose a budget item for repaving tennis courts and painting pickleball lines on those courts so both games can be played. The city could purchase nets that can be rolled on and off the tennis courts for pickleball games. The commission would then have to approve the funding.
While city officials aren’t against a pickleball league, the city can’t get involved with organizing it. Commissioner Denise Houseberg said pickleball should be a league of its own.
“My only concern if you set up a league and you set up a time, and you get there to play and there are people on the court, who is going to police that when you’re trying to shake people off the court? Is the city going to be responsible for policing that effort?”
Few disagree that behavior is getting out of hand at the pickleball courts.
“I really have (city) employees who don’t want to go to the pickleball courts while active playing is going on,” Mims said.