■ BY MARCY SHORTUSE
There has been a bit of a change-up on our beach access streets as of late, a change that includes new signs and a whole new way to park.
If you look closely at the entrance to the beach access streets you will see a new sign at each one, the one pictured at the left of this story. Due to a Lee County ordinance and some input from an island advisory panel, we will now be parallel parking on the beach streets.
“All new signage is in place, and Lee County Parks and Recreation and the Lee County Sheriff’s Department have worked together to make sure that all new signage is enforceable and aids in the welfare and safety of all residents and visitors to the beach access streets,” said Tim Engstrom, a communications specialist with Lee County.
A community advisory group consisting of approximately eight business owners and residents on the island have been meeting for almost two years to come up with a suitable compromise between beachgoers and residents on the beach streets. It has not been easy, to say the least, for decisions to be made but they have now been finalized.
Lee County Sheriff’s deputies have given some tickets to people parking diagonally or blocking driveways on those streets in recent days, but quite often if they can find the car’s owner they will simply give them a warning … for now.
If you go to the Lee County municipal codes and look up the “Gasparilla Island Parking Ordinance” you will find Section 24-59, Parallel and angle parking regulations. It states, “Except as otherwise provided in this section, every vehicle stopped or parking upon a two-way roadway shall be so stopped or parked with the right-hand wheels parallel to and within twelve (12) inches of the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway; (2) Every vehicle stopped or parked upon a one-way roadway shall be so stopped or parked parallel to the curb or edge of the roadway, in the direction of authorized traffic movement, with its right-hand wheels within twelve (12) inches of the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, or its left wheels within twelve (12) inches of the left-hand curb or edge of the roadway. (b) Angle parking.”
It continues on to say, “ Angle parking may be permitted on streets and/or roadways within unincorporated Lee County, provided that a proper and documented traffic engineering study is performed, either by the Department of Transportation and Engineering or by a private consultant, and approved by the Department of Transportation and Engineering pursuant to the applicable Administrative Code.”
While downtown Boca Grande has had a parking study, the beach access streets have not. That means according to Lee County code, we need to start parallel parking.
As far as the signs that say, “No motor vehicles beyond this point,” that is to ensure that emergency vehicles have room to maneuver if they have a call at the beach, and to make sure beachgoers can actually get to the beach access points (from the road to the sand).
If you have questions about our new parking, contact the Lee County Department of Transportation at (239) 533-8580.