Mobile bait sales questioned at Kingfish Boat Ramp
|Eloy Reyna sells live shrimp at the Kingfish Boat Ramp. Islander Photos: Bonner Joy
|Lemonade, barbecue and ice cream vendors, as well as watercraft rentals and horseback rides for hire operate most weekends and holidays on the Palma Sola Causeway.
When Eloy Reyna was last approached about a photo for a newspaper, he said the first time that happened a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer showed up to check him out within 10 minutes.
Reyna said the previous photographer possibly only wanted a snapshot to make a complaint, but, also that he has all the permits and licenses necessary for his mobile bait business.
Reyna has a retail saltwater products license registered with the FWC that expires June 30. And he registered a fictitious name with the state for his company, Gulf Coast Magical Shrimp Company.
Also, he and his wife, who reside in Bradenton, each operate a mobile bait trailer. On the day The Islander observed Reyna selling live bait from a tank on a trailer behind his pickup truck at the Kingfish Boat Ramp, he said his wife was doing the same thing at the 59th Street boat ramp in Bradenton.
Eloy Reyna produced a business card for his painting and pressure cleaning business, but he said he had little work and was suffering from the slow economy. He sought out the mobile bait business as a way to support his family “through the hard times.”
Wife Marlene Reyna said she did all the homework and got all the necessary permits and licenses for their business in advance. She said they have vendor and retail licenses from Manatee County.
“We’ve had no problems,” Marlene Reyna said, “not even at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.”
She said she and her husband sell live shrimp for $3 per dozen and they are “not looking to take over the market, but every sort of business has competition.
“We buy and sell 2,000 shrimp and when they’re gone, we’re gone. We go out early in the morning and sometimes we’re done by noon.”
But hard times may have found the Reyna family again. A complaint was made about Reyna’s two operations to Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie that resulted in instructions from Manatee County Citizens Action Center supervisor Kaycee Ellis to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office that deputies advise vendors of the county rules at Kingfish.
According to county ordinance, “No person shall offer for sale any services, article or thing; nor place any stand, cart or vehicle for the transportation, sale or display of any such article or thing, in any park unless authorized to do so by a county-issued license or concession under the authority and regulation of the director.”
However, there was no response by presstime from Manatee County regarding whether the Reynas are “authorized” or licensed to sell at county parks.
The boat ramp — at least, for the time being — falls under county jurisdiction, and enforcement there falls on the sheriff’s office.
Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger has made an official request to the county to allow the city to annex — and patrol — Kingfish Boat Ramp, but no action has resulted.
City, county share causeway
Enforcement of laws on the Palma Sola Causeway falls under two jurisdictions, that of the city of Bradenton and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
The north side of the causeway, where rest rooms and picnic tables are provided, is considered unincorporated county property, according to Kaycee Ellis of the county citizen action center.
The south side of the causeway, where the new boat ramp is nearing completion with the addition of a parking lot, falls within the incorporated boundaries of the city of Bradenton.
According to Bradenton administrative aide Renee Raymond, there is a city ordinance that prohibits street vending on public lands or property unless authorized by city council.
Raymond indicated that the Florida Department of Transportation does not allow vending on its roads or rights of way.
Enforcement is another issue. Bradenton code enforcement officer Volker Reiss said the city code enforcement staff does not work weekends or holidays. He said the responsibility then falls to law enforcement.
And lacking complaints of vendors operating on either city or county property, police and deputies are kept busy pursuing calls of more urgent, crime-related matters and traffic enforcement.
But another complaint was made to the county that does not fall within either the county or city of Bradenton jurisdiction pertains to bait sales occurring in the Intracoastal Waterway south of Cortez Road.