BELLEAIR BEACH – Nonresidents will soon pay a parking fee to use the lot next to City Hall.

The City Council decided at their May 7 meeting to install a pay station and begin charging an hourly fee to anyone not using the lot for city business or Community Center events.

Belleair Beach residents can park free with a sticker available at City Hall.

The move follows up a recommendation made by the city Parks and Recreation Board at last month’s council meeting. At that session, Board Chairman Robert Sample said most people use the lot to go to the beach or walk the Causeway Bridge.

He said the Sheriff’s Office had determined the majority of people parking there do not live in Belleair Beach. Also, Sample said the lot starts filling up early in the morning and that disturbs residents living on Cedar Drive adjacent to the lot, where he also lives. At the meeting, council members appeared agreeable to paid parking at the City Hall lot.

At the May meeting, the council gave approval for the city to purchase and install a parking station at the City Hall/Community Center parking lot. It is the only lot in the city that offers free parking. Pay stations are currently installed at Morgan Park, Bayside Park and the Marina. The addition of paid parking at the City Hall lot should give the city a significant revenue boost.

City Manager Lynn Rives said the city’s income from parking was about $84,000 over the past 12 months.

The cost to install a parking station at the lot is about $8,000, and the money is in the budget, Rives said.

Spaces will be set aside for city business parking, Rives said.

The parking fees and hours of enforcement were not discussed at the meeting. Rives said he also plans to extend the fence along Cedar Drive to help with the residents’ noise concerns. That cost is minimal, he said.

Code enforcement a priority issue

Several steps were taken to bolster code enforcement in the city. The issue has been an ongoing concern for residents, who have complained of unkempt properties, homes in disrepair, and illegal short-term rentals, among other code violations. Newly elected council members and City Manager Rives have indicated code changes and enforcement are a need that will be addressed.

Rives announced changes in the city staff positions and responsibility. He said two part-time positions, one in public works and the other a community improvement/code enforcement officer, will be “moved to Code Enforcement and made full time.” Rives told the Bee following the meeting that the purpose of the changes is to “beef up code enforcement.”

The council also agreed with a recommendation by Rives to set up an ad hoc committee that would work with Rives on code enforcement and revamping the current code.

Pavouris urged the council to move quickly on the issue.

“We need to get it going,” he said.

Mayor Leslie Notaro and Council Member Glen Gunn suggested Council hold a workshop prior to next month’s regular meeting dedicated to the code enforcement topic. The objective would be to lay out the goals for the code enforcement committee and decide on the composition of the committee.

Then, Gunn said, the council will be ready to establish the committee at the June meeting.

Council members agreed to the work session.

West Bay Drive road changes opposed

The council unanimously passed a resolution opposing a “Complete Streets” proposal that would add a bike lane and landscaping to West Bay Drive, while narrowing traffic lanes. One of the objectives would be to slow traffic.

Council members had voiced their objections to the plan, especially the lane narrowing, and decided at last month’s council meeting to join neighboring Belleair Shore in formally opposing it.

The resolution that was passed says Belleair Beach “will be directly impacted by the proposed reconfiguration of the roadway” and “was not represented in the planning stages of the pilot project.”

“The City Council does not believe that narrowing the lanes on West Bay Drive is in the best interests for the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens” and “expresses its opposition to the Forward Pinellas proposed plans for West Bay Drive and any future plans that purport to narrow the lanes on the thoroughfare,” the resolution says.