Three months, 200 parking citations: Most issued post-COVID beach sundown

June 5, 2020
By Olivia Cameron

BY OLIVIA CAMERON- After a nice day in the sun, no one wants to get back to their car to see a little paper slip flapping under the wipers. It’s that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach that can be avoided.
Gasparilla Island parking rangers and Lee County Sheriff’s deputies issued more than 200 citations in the three months before, during and just after the COVID-19 shutdown, which meant a lot of cars were wearing those slips of paper like a badge of dishonor. 
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed having written numerous citations in the past three months. From March 1 to May 31, sheriff’s deputies issued 90 parking citations in Boca Grande.  In the same time span, Boca Grande park rangers issued 129 additional citations. As compared to May of 2019, the number of violations recorded by park rangers went up 39 citations. 
Between 1st Street and 19th Street, parallel parkers line up, bumper to bumper like a ticker tape parade. Each street offers limited space to those looking to catch some rays. Boundaries now line some of these streets, showing the extent to which parking is available. Be careful not to park beyond the given point that reaches the beach entrance and be cautious of property lines. Driveways can easily get blocked and one-side parking can be overlooked. 
With the Boca Grande Parking Ordinance enacted last year, parking remains prohibited on the south side of Belcher Road, and buses, campers and motor homes can only park on  E. Railroad Avenue between 5th and 7th streets. No parking zones are labeled by signage. The amendment has given the Lee County Sheriff’s Office the right to enforce what the signs on the island identify as violations. 
 These parking guidelines are monitored to preserve the safety of visitors and residents. Next time you see an open space calling your name, be aware of signage and double check that you are not crossing boundaries.