Parked cars line the street near a beach access in Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Courtesy Jaynie Christenson
A makeshift “No Parking” sign is posted outside a residence in Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Courtesy Jaynie Christenson
The Holmes Beach Traffic Committee is proposing a plan to give relief from street parking to some homeowners near the beach.
The committee claims it has discovered areas for public parking that haven’t been accounted for in the past in order to maintain the total number of public parking spaces provided in the city.
But the newly identified parking areas are apparently already in use by visitors, beachgoers and business patrons for parking.
The plan presented to commissioners July 22 includes relocating signs for public parking spaces from residential areas to commercial streets — musical chairs for signs.
Before going to the commission, committee members met July 21 to discuss their plan to reassign parking, paying particular attention to the required number of public parking spaces for Manatee County to qualify for future beach renourishment funding.
The committee learned the renourishment funding does not call for an actual count of parking spaces, but rather parking spaces with signs designating public spaces.
Committee chair Carol Soustek contacted Charlie Hunsicker, director of the Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department, and committee member Jaynie Christenson consulted with Erica Carr-Betts, civil engineer with Coastal Planning and Engineering, contracted by the county to perform a renourishment-related parking study on Anna Maria Island.
The committee also canvassed the city, counting signs and accounting for unsigned spaces. Members provided commissioners with a list of residential streets with public parking signs, and a list of commercial streets that lack signs.
The committee’s plan is to prohibit public parking on the streets and rights of way in residential areas. Committee members have cited complaints from residents related to beachgoers parking in front of their homes.
“People are parking on any and all available streets, including sidewalks, and it’s a safety factor. People are too close to stop signs, and you can’t get a car down the street, much less an emergency vehicle. And people are parking the wrong direction,” Soustek said.
“There are a lot of places to park not in residential areas, and people are already parking there. They’re just not signed,” said Soustek.
In Holmes Beach, street parking is allowed. According to Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer, it is only illegal to park on streets that are posted “No Parking.”
The traffic committee suggested prohibiting parking in residential zones, eliminating 41 spaces. They accounted for 52 existing spaces in commercial zones that they suggest the city post with parking signs.
The committee estimates the city needs a minimum of 364 spaces to earn maximum funding for renourishment, and members found 422 eligible spaces.
Committee members also proposed issuing decals or residential parking tags, so residents can provide guest parking on their streets or rights of way.
City planner Bill Brisson advised the city commission at the July 22 meeting: “I have been involved in this with one other community. Normally you don’t use zoning districts, you use a distance. Zoning districts are nothing but a confusion. It should be something like west of Gulf Drive.”
Commission Chair Judy Titsworth delayed taking any action. “My suggestion is to give us all the information and let it soak in. There’s going to be public that want to speak. I think we should address it again real soon at another work session and get more public comment,” she said.
The city commission will again discuss the traffic committee’s parking proposal at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 14, at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.