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Paid parking likely for visitors to city of Anna Maria

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

The idea of paid parking, at least for day visitors to the city of Anna Maria, is gaining traction among commissioners, who, after an Aug. 8 meeting, seem ready to drive home a parking plan.

Although the meeting was to be a workshop of ideas for possible new revenue streams, commissioners quickly agreed that some revenue should come from day visitors, as they have a great deal of impact on the city’s infrastructure.

Commission Chair Chuck Webb said his thoughts on how to generate more city revenue concluded with the idea that paid parking could be the easiest to accomplish. Although paid parking has been suggested by previous commissions, it was turned down because parking on holidays and weekends was not a serious issue, he said.

“But it is now,” Webb observed.

Paid parking is easier to implement as a revenue source than a special city tax, he said. A study providing factual evidence is needed for a special assessment, but paid parking is not an assessment, Webb noted.

“And if we passed a tax, we would need approval of the Florida Legislature,” Webb said. “But we own the roads, right of way and many parking spots and can charge what we want.” There is no need for a study to have paid parking, he said.

Commissioner Dale Woodland agreed that paid parking is easily done and does not impact city residents. He opposes any impact or parking fee for residents.

The short-term visitors are using more of the city’s roads, beaches, trash bins and the city pier than the residents, Webb said. Therefore, it’s only fair that those who use something the most should help pay for it. City taxpayers already are paying for those items in their annual tax bill, he said.

Woodland said parking seems to be “the easiest and most agreeable” to commissioners, and “what is charged is a controlling mechanism” on the large number of day visitors.

“Paid parking is our priority,” Woodland.

Mayor SueLynn confirmed that paid parking would count toward the public parking spaces needed to qualify for state and federal beach renourishment funds.

“Just as long as they are public parking locations,” she said.

Commissioner Gene Aubry said Anna Maria may be the only city where he’s worked without paid parking.

“But the last thing I want to do is penalize people who have lived here for years,” Aubry said. “And remember, our biggest industry is tourism, so we have to be careful. We don’t want to penalize the little guy who runs a business,” he added.

The commission will have to hold several more brain-storming sessions to iron out the details of how paid parking is implemented, including who gets charged, Webb said.

Commissioners Doug Copeland and Nancy Yetter were absent.

“Let’s start with parking for now,” Woodland said. “It’s easy and we get 100 percent of the revenue and it won’t impact our residents.”

The subject will be on the agenda for the Aug. 22 meeting and the city attorney is expected to be present.

Webb noted the city gets nothing back from the resort tax for its infrastructure, despite pleas to the Manatee County Tourist Development Council for support for the city.

“They keep saying they’ll look into it, but we hear nothing, despite our pleas that a small city like Anna Maria has a hard time dealing with thousands of people on weekends and they make a big impact on our roads, the pier, our beach accesses and landscaping,” Mayor SueLynn said.

The mayor also noted that if the city is to begin towing vehicles in no-parking zones, or placing a lock on a vehicle to prevent a driver from moving it, ordinances are needed. At present, the city code only allows towing a vehicle that is blocking a private driveway.

Commissioners also discussed a uniform sign ordinance. Building official Bob Welch said he has talked to several real estate agents, who offered ideas for a standard sign.

Any change to the sign ordinance that creates a standard-size sign would take about two years to implement, Webb said.

“But we could have temporary and permanent signs for sales and rentals and charge accordingly for each,” he suggested.

Welch said he would bring a draft sign ordinance to the commission as soon as possible for discussion.

“If we implement the ordinance over a period of time, we could achieve compliance,” he said.

The next commission meeting will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22, at Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.

11 Responses to Paid parking likely for visitors to city of Anna Maria

  1. GulfCoastRick says:

    I’m sorry Anna Maria is moving towards the traits of beachside communities north of the bay, where parking meters litter the streetscape and tourists have to reach deep in their bag of quarters for the privilege of enjoying a day on the island.
    What’s next? Turnstiles to get onto the beach?
    Hopefully, this will be a short lived, or ill-fated experiment, much like that attempted in downtown Sarasota.

  2. w j peoples says:

    I visit for 3 months in the winter. how would this impact me? If Im staying in holmes beach and drive to the beach at the point would I have to pay to park?

  3. Jennifer says:

    Although it seems like a good idea to start charging for parking but, seriously how is that going to be implemented? There are barely any public parking lots out here in Anna Maria. If there is a lot it is usual a place of business that is closed because it’s the weekend. So what are you going to put meters in front of the vacation rentals??? That will look real tacky. There isn’t enough room out here. If you need more revenue I think you could figure out another way to increase that. I hope the people voting on this come to there senses….

  4. Something needs to be done about these “day trippers”. Charge $20.00 a year for a permit. This should be available only to residents. Set up meters and have the police department tow them or boot them.

    • Charming says:

      Thanks without the people from the mainland coming over your little island wouldn’t survive! Maybe we should charge all the AMI residents to come over to the mainland for shopping, movies, dinning ect.

      • Jason Trenchard says:

        We wouldn’t survive? Did fine for decades without hordes of visitors. People actually wanted to come and live in this piece of paradise before the island was promoted, promoted, promoted… 20% of residents have now left in the last 10 years and what do we have left? Basically a resort full of rental properties.

  5. Mermaiden says:

    We all know THE CAUSE OF THIS EFFECT. Those piled-high-and-deeper rentals. Why not just give it up, and rename the island, LITTLE JERSEY SHORE. It’s getting almost as obnoxious.

  6. P Copestake says:

    Hi I am a British holiday maker who comes to Florida each year for the past 5 I have based myself in the Bradenton area and spent my Holiday dollar on Anna Marie. if you want to make me feel unwelcome by extra charges Fell free to do so. BUT I do have a choice and can always take my custom some place else.

  7. Robyn Davis says:

    Don’t just post here, write a letter to the commissioners in charge of making this decision. A parking fee for “Daytrippers,” will only lead to lost revenue for the local businesses and it will completely change the character of Anna Maria. I have already emailed the commissioners, with a copy to the mayor to let them know that they should find an alternate way to find the revenue they need.

    The emails for the commissioners and the mayor are:
    amcommwoodland@cityofannamaria.com,
    amcommwebb@cityofannamaria.com,
    amcommaubry@cityofannamaria.com,
    amcommyetter@cityofannamaria.com,
    amcommcopeland@cityofannamaria.com

    ammayor@cityofannamaria.com

    • Marsha Bard says:

      It’s not really the revenue we need. Anna Maria City is not a huge place – there are only so many parking places and the number of visitors outnumber those available spaces. Would we open our own driveways and yards to accommodate the day visitors? We don’t know the solution, but we have to find one.

  8. Charming says:

    I just moved to Manatee County and would stop going to Holmes beach if I had to pay for parking. I would just go to the beach at the wildlife park. At least then the money is going to something worth wild instead of some greedy politicians pocket!

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