Sandpearl Dock Parking a "Non-issue" for Doran
by Carl Wagenfohr
CLEARWATER - Overlooked in news media post mortems of the Sandpearl Docks hearing at the September 6th City Council meeting was an issue that has plagued Clearwater Beach for years - parking.
The proposed construction of 27 private docks would ordinarily require the provision of 14 parking spaces per the Clearwater Development Code. But the Sandpearl was excused from creating any additional parking because two provisions of the development agreement were intended to eliminate the need for it:
But it is not only Sandpearl residents and guests who could rent the slips. The eligible geographic area was expanded to include owners and tenants of properties between Papaya and Rockaway streets, including residents of the Mandalay Beach Club. North beach residents wondered how boaters living several blocks away from the slips would transport gear, food and beverage to their boats without driving and parking.
Anne Garris said during the hearing, "I believe we are impacting severely the already impacted parking of this area." Garris was speaking of Lot 38, a 79-space surface parking facility that lies adjacent to the proposed Sandpearl docks and currently serves beach goers, users of the beach recreation center, pool, tennis courts and, soon, the beach library branch.
"There seems to be concern about parking in the rec center parking lot," Councilmember John Doran observed during Council discussion. "My recollection is there's a five hour limit there. Am I correct or incorrect on that?" he asked of no one in particular. "I believe that's true," responded City Manager Bill Horne. Mayor Frank Hibbard said, "You can only fill the meter for five hours. You can go back and refill it."
"That's my point. If you come in the morning and get on your boat and go out all day and come back, it strikes me that you will have at least one ticket," Doran said; "It's true people can violate it, we can't very well stop them, but we can sanction them for parking there longer than they're supposed to."
If Doran had been a participant on Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader, a colleague having the right answer would not have saved him; both City Manager Bill Horne and Mayor Frank Hibbard had endorsed Doran's wrong assumption. Parking went unmentioned for the remainder of the raucous council discussion of the dock agreement.
What Doran had failed to understand is that Lot 39 is one of several on north beach where Clearwater residents can use an annual parking pass, available from the city for $40. What he thought was a five-hour time limit does not apply to pass holders, who have no limit at all. And those eligible to rent a Sandpearl slip are, by definition, eligible to purchase annual parking passes.
Earlier this week, the Gazette questioned Doran about his assumption of a five-hour time limit; "I guess I made a mistake," he said.
Asked how the parking prohibition on slip tenants could be enforced, Doran responded, "That was always a question I had. I'm not sure how they would come up with a plan for enforcement. How would you identify a car that belongs to someone leasing a slip from any other persons?" That was exactly one of the concerns Garris had voiced.
Doran added, "It was a non-issue for me because, for me, a public parking place is a public parking place, available first come first served to whomever feeds the meter or buys the permit."
Including renters of the Sandpearl slips, who, the public had been assured, would not be allowed to park there.
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