REDINGTON BEACH — This town has a unique beach parking problem that sets it aside from other Pinellas County beach municipalities, because it envisions itself as residential community and not a tourist mecca.
With about 1,376 residents and 724 households, the town does not offer beach parking for tourists at its small beach access lot on 160th and Gulf Boulevard, or on any other street in town. Instead, only residents are eligible to receive a parking decal for family members, or any visitors they may have, to park at the 17-space beach access lot or any other available public parking spaces on streets adjacent to the beach.
Those who illegally park without a decal face a $50 fine.
Mayor David Will said the process has worked well until recently, when some residents appear to have started sharing their visitor’s passes with those not living in Redington Beach. He suspects some of the problems are caused by an increasing number of transient rental users who are eligible to receive visitor passes, but then share them with a number of people from outside the town.
Since Redington Beach is small — only 10 blocks long — many residents walk or bicycle to their nearest beach access, so it seems odd that suddenly beach access at the town parking lot is easily filled with vehicles.
During a March 2 meeting, Will asked residents for suggestions on how to deal with the parking decal abuse problem and requested the city attorney provide the commission with a revised beach parking ordinance. Some ideas under consideration include raising the fine, limiting the number of parking decals per household, or identifying the vehicle license number on both resident and visitors pass users to prevent sharing.
The topic will likely be on the Wednesday, March 16 meeting agenda, during which commissioners will take public comments on the issue, before an ordinance revision is heard.
The town provides a few spaces for out-of-town visitors to Redington Beach at Town Park at 164th and Gulf Boulevard, which offers a children’s play area and other amenities.
Under the current ordinance, any resident who obtains a beach parking permit from the Town Clerk is entitled to receive one visitor parking permit per household, but it appears this rule has been relaxed over the years. Mayor Will said the town needs to tighten up its parking decal system.
Other parking infractions that can incur a $50 fine in town include double parking, parking a motor vehicle with its left side to curb, parking parallel in a diagonal space, parking more than the maximum allowed distance from the curb, or parking an unattended vehicle with its key left in the ignition.
Additional $50 infractions include parking in a no-parking zone, parking at or near a fire hydrant, parking in a reserved space, parking on the sidewalk, parking in or near an intersection, blocking a driveway, parking in a loading zone, or parking over a curb. Parking by able-bodied drivers in spaces designated for people who have disabilities will incur a $100 violation.
Will said he hopes there will be a big turnout of residents voicing their opinion on how the city should handle transient rental units at the election on Tuesday, March 15th.
He noted while there are no commission seats to be filled during this election, it’s important for residents to make their voices heard in the referendum that will be on the ballot. During the last municipal election, only about 50 percent of eligible voters cast ballots, the mayor said.
He said he hopes this important referendum vote attracts much more than 50 percent of voters. Residents’ votes will play a big part in determining how the city handles the transient rental issue.