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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

At long last, a parking space in Anna Maria - maybe

Hard to believe, but the Anna Maria City Commission appears on the verge of approving a parking plan for the city after more than 80 years of parking problems and endless committees and recommendations.

Commissioners at their March 17 parking workshop gave consensus for the go-ahead to the proposal, dubbed "Plan X" by author and Commission Chairperson John Quam.

Well, four commissioners gave the go-ahead.

Commissioner Dale Woodland said the plan is too complicated and he wasn't going to vote for it if it ever comes to the commission as an ordinance.

Even Commissioner Carol Magill said she had some "reservations" about the plan, which pinpoints 109 parking spaces along streets within the designated beach-access zone.

The original Baskerville-Donovan Inc. engineering report had designated 271 parking spaces within the BAZ.

Despite reservations by Woodland and Magill, however, commissioners proceeded to look at spaces in Plan X street-by-street and hear public input on the amount of parking, or no parking, on each of those streets.

First up were the residents of Willow Avenue, who want the street kept as it is, with open parking and no designated spaces.

Fine, said Commissioner Linda Cramer, but does this set a precedent?

What if residents of other streets want a consideration to have no parking, asked Commissioner Duke Miller.

"My feeling is, if we don't listen to others, we don't listen to Willow," he said.

Seven of the 14 property owners on Willow Avenue attended the meeting, and resident Gene Moss said that most of the other owners are weekend residents who don't mind open parking.

But Miller thought property owners on each street in the BAZ should get a ballot and decide if they want parking or not.

Cramer pointed out that even under the current parking ordinance, property owners on a street can request no parking. Commissioners have already agreed that under any new parking ordinance adopted, there will be a clause whereby residents can apply for an "exception" to whatever parking is or is not on their street or in front of their property, she noted.

Language for those "exceptions," observed Quam, has not yet been discussed.

Commissioners agreed to leave parking open on Willow.

Quam reluctantly agreed, but said that if all other property owners on BAZ streets want open parking, or no parking, then the plan is worthless.

Commissioners discussed parking spaces on each street within the BAZ, and agreed with one Spruce Street resident that because of the safety issue, there might be a problem with the four spaces designated for that street.

Mayor SueLynn suggested that Cypress-Tuna-Spruce be made one-way to reduce traffic flow.

Commissioners decided to return to Spruce Street at the next parking workshop.

Commissioners also agreed to place five handicap parking spaces on Palm Avenue, and possibly more.

There was also discussion of making the Magnolia Avenue-Gulf Boulevard-Palm Avenue drive-through one way from north to south, and commissioners agreed to look at this possibility further.

Other handicap parking spaces would be on Willow Avenue (one) and on Oak Avenue (one) under Plan X.

There was also discussion of placing a handicap space at the beach access at Bean Point, and Quam said he would look into the feasibility of that space.

Woodland said he wanted the commission to revisit the issue of having all parking on Gulf Boulevard as handicap spaces, as it was for a number of years. Currently, no parking is allowed on Gulf Boulevard, and the former parking area is designated for loading and unloading.

Commissioners also discussed how Plan X might affect commercial properties in residential areas.

SueLynn said she understood that many motels in residential areas have had their parking grandfathered in, but it was something City Attorney Jim Dye might look at if Plan X removes any parking from the establishment.

After discussing parking on each of the 34 streets in the BAZ, commissioners agreed to proceed with another parking workshop at 6 p.m. April 8, one hour prior to the regular commission workshop.

The commission, said Quam, still has a lot of work ahead, before the plan is ready for Dye to write an accompanying ordinance.

But Magill was concerned that the commission was not hearing from enough residents, particularly those who might want an exception.

Most residents in attendance, however, praised the plan as at least something the city is doing to solve the long-standing issue.

George Lott of Oak Avenue said the plan appears "acceptable" at this point.

Prior to adjournment, Miller, who is promoting Plan X as a compromise to his permit parking plan, praised Quam for going "beyond the call of duty" in mapping out parking on each street in the BAZ in Plan X.

"Let's call it the commission plan," said Quam.

Woodland said you can call it whatever you want, but he's still not voting for it.

By the streets
Under "Plan X," streets in the BAZ would have the following parking spaces, not including any handicap parking, (numbers in parenthesis indicate spaces on each side of the road):

Street		Spaces			Location
	 Peppertree	4 (3 and 1)	near beach access.
	 Beach		5 (3 and 2)	near beach access.
	 Park		6 (3 and 3)	near beach access.
	 Maple		4 (4)		at 109 and 111 Maple.
	 Oak		undecided.
	 Mangrove	7 (3 and 4)	near access.
	 Cedar		undecided.
	 Willow		none.
	 Palmetto	5 (3 and 2)	near beach access.
	 Palm		5 (3 and 2)	near beach access.
	 Magnolia	2 (2)		Sand & Sea to Gulf. Drive
	 Gulf Blvd.	none
	 Spring		2 (2)		near Gulf Drive
	 Pine		2 (2)		On Pine Avenue BAZ
							(commercial parking on
							Pine not affected)
	Elm			4 (2 and 2)	near Gulf Dr.
	Sycamore	4 (2 and 2)	near Gulf Dr.
	Sycamore	4 (2 and 2)	near Gulf Dr. and North Shore.
	Coconut		none.
	Fir			3 (3)		near North Shore.
	Spruce		undecided.
	Tuna		none.
	Cypress		6 (3 and 3)	currently near North Shore.
	Newton		3 (3)		undecided.
	Jacaranda	2 (2)		near Fern.
	Jacaranda	4 (2 and 2)	near North Bay.
	Jacaranda	4 (4)		near North Bay, North Shore.
	Fern		4 (1 and 3)	near North Shore.
	Fern		3 (3)		near Jacaranda.
	Gladiolus		3 (2 and 1)	near Jacaranda.
	Gladiolus		1			45 feet from Jacaranda.

The full details of Plan X, along with maps showing the proposed locations of each parking space, are available at Anna Maria City Hall for inspection.