by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
Sanibel residents and property owners will be able to purchase beach parking permits for next year on Monday, Nov. 9, at the Sanibel Recreation Center, 3880 Sanibel Captiva Rd. But non-residents will have to wait.
City Council unanimously passed part of an ordinance that raises the annual beach parking permit fees by 10 percent – increasing “A” permits from $12 to $14; “C” permits from $90 to $99; and “AC” permits from $102 to $113. The ordinance would have also increased the non-resident permits – “B” from $124 to $137 and “BC” from $248 to $273 – but Councilman Richard Johnson said those prices are inadequate.
“I think (the price) should be higher because it doesn’t reflect the hourly cost of parking and the cost of maintenance,” said Johnson. “While I welcome all visitors, the non-resident sticker price should better reflect the cost of hourly parking.”
Vice Mayor Mick Denham and Councilwoman Holly Smith agreed with Johnson. Councilman Chauncey Goss also agreed, stating the current annual cost of the non-resident permits only covers a few months of parking at $5 per hour and the rest of the year is essentially free.
Instead of raising the price of non-resident beach parking permits, Mayor Kevin Ruane suggested limiting the number of permits sold to non-residents. He said a higher increase in price could bring “sticker shock” and capping the number allows the city to know there are a certain number of permits and certain number of spots to avoid disruptions as people look for parking.
Johnson said he would like to see an appropriate price increase and a cap on the number of non-resident beach parking permits. Council will deliberate the issue again in its Dec. 1 meeting. In the meantime, non-residents will have to park in the city’s public beach parking lots at the standard hourly rate of $5.
The city is encouraging residents and property owners to fill out the beach parking permit application in advance to save time. The Recreation Center opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, during which time permits will be available. The Recreation Center will be closed Wednesday, Nov. 11, in observance of Veteran’s Day.
In other agenda items, council will have a second reading in December on an ordinance that will increase the fine for parking violations from $75 to $150. In May, the city temporarily increased the parking fines to $200 to curb the rise in illegal beach parking resulting from the pandemic.
However, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order that, among other things, suspended all COVID related fines and penalties which nullified the city’s temporary parking fine increase. But council members recognized in their October meeting the effectiveness of the increased fine in curbing illegal parking and unanimously voted to increase the fine permanently.