It was a time for applause, cheers and a few tears at the Anna Maria City Commission’s Oct. 25 meeting.
First, Doug Copeland was named Citizen of the Year by the city’s selection committee, which brought several rounds of applause.
Then planning and zoning board chair Tom Turner was honored for his 89th birthday with a cake made by former Mayor Fran Barford. That brought more applause from the commission and audience.
And, at the end of the meeting, tears flowed from the eyes of Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick, who did not seek re-election after serving six years in office.
Also heading away from the city government is Mayor Mike Selby, who also did not seek re-election. He has at least one more meeting to attend.
Selby will serve as chair of the commission’s Nov. 15 organizational meeting and pass the gavel to the commissioner elected as chair of the commission, who will then become mayor of the city.
In other business on Oct. 25, Commissioner SueLynn updated commissioners on the progress of the database of vacation rentals owners in the city.
The city has accumulated a list of 452 owners or rental agents to call in the event of a disturbance or complaint at that location.
She said the next step is to get Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies assigned to the Anna Maria substation “on board” and use the database to call the owner or rental agent if a disturbance occurs. Deputies cannot evict a renter, but the rental agent can, she noted.
Selby said he and city attorney Jim Dye are meeting with Sheriff Brad Steube Oct. 31 to “work out a memo on procedures for deputies” when called to a noise complaint.
“The key is getting the deputies to work with the property managers,” Selby said.
SueLynn also asked commissioners to discuss permitted parking, limiting parking on the rights of way or limiting vacation rentals to just two parking spaces. She said the commission has done nothing to solve the problem of rowdy tourists and too many parked cars per rental home.
Commission Chair Chuck Webb, however, said House Bill 883 ties the commission’s hands.
The statute allows any Florida homeowner to rent his or her home as long as state and local requirements for licenses and taxes are met.
Webb said everyone has to be treated the same under the statute. If a vacation rental can only have two parking spaces, then a single-family residence must have the same criteria.
“We are in a box. We have to treat everyone the same,” Webb said.
He noted the Florida League of Cities and the Florida Association of Counties would be lobbying for a repeal.
SueLynn said she’s all for tourism, if it doesn’t interfere with the quality or lifestyle of the city residents.
Commissioner John Quam said the season is coming and soon thousands of people will visit the city of Anna Maria.
“They will come no matter what we do,” he said.
“But we simply cannot accommodate every person who comes here and wants a parking space,” SueLynn said.
“I have no problem with tourists. It’s when they load up houses with the maximum number of people that causes a problem,” she said.
Quam suggested the city go to the Manatee County Tourist Development Council and ask for help with the parking problem. “They advertise millions to bring visitors here and we have to take care of them when they arrive,” he said.
Commissioner Dale Woodland said it’s only a few vacation rentals that are causing problems. And he said the city parking situation is very fair to visitors.
“We don’t charge for parking and there’s reasonable parking for all visitors. I’m not seeing a problem from that,” Woodland said.
Webb, an attorney, said he would review the statute and determine if parking is considered a use by the law. If not, the city may have some leeway to regulate vacation rental property parking.
Commissioners also voted by resolution not to use the city property on Pine Avenue at Bay Boulevard for a parking lot and decided against construction of a gazebo or pavilion.
Webb said the commission needs a formal landscaping plan and a cost estimate for the property before proceeding.
Quam said to ask the TDC for money to develop the property as a park since visitors will use it.
Commissioners also asked public works superintendent George McKay to do a cost study on proposed crosswalks on Gulf Drive and Pine Avenue and report back to the commission.
Selby thanked everyone for helping him during his two years in office.
Mattick told Selby, “You brought us together and showed that we can work with each other and I thank you.”
In return, Selby and each commissioner thanked Mattick for her six years on the commission.
The commission will next meet at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15.