Parking Gone Wild on Clearwater Beach
By Contributing Writer Donna Malloy
Photo by Donna Malloy
In large letters, the posted blue signs say: TOW AWAY ZONE, Unauthorized Vehicles or Vessels will be towed away at owner's expense 24 hrs a Day 7 Days a Wk. KOTAKIS TOWING 447-1952.
During the week, lots sit empty on Clearwater Beach. That's because some lot owners have signed an agreement with Kotakis permitting them to tow cars that trespass onto their land.
But on weekends, it's another story. Some of these same lot owners have also applied and received from the City of Clearwater temporary permits allowing them to charge beachgoers to park in their lot. It's a way for owners to earn extra income while their land sits idle.
But have lot owners considered what could happen if an injury occurred due to the act of a third person? If the parking lot attendant has left the parking lot, the injured party will most likely sue the lot owner, especially if the lot owner is insured.
"Generally owners of real property are liable for injuries to people which occurred on their property if the injured people were not properly warned of potential dangers. In this case the owner of the property is exposed to potential legal liability to any of the vehicle owners who park on the lot and who are injured or their vehicles damaged while on the lot" according to Matt King, Esq., Tarpon Springs, FL.
Then there's the issue of tenants using their driveways for public parking on the weekends. "A lessee allowing third parties onto the leased premises exposes the owner of the property to legal liability for injuries occurring to the third parties. Before an owner should allow his tenant to invite third parties onto the leased premises he should at a minimum require the tenant to obtain liability insurance and agree to indemnify and hold harmless the owner for injuries occurring to people who are on the property in connection with the tenants business" continued King.
Numerous calls to the City of Clearwater's Code Enforcement office resulted in a visit to Clearwater Beach several Saturdays ago. Code Enforcement Officer Peggy Franco stated: "we did have an inspector go out on Saturday and they did not see anyone selling parking when we went out; he didn't catch them."
City of Clearwater's Code Manager Don Bates, when told the story of a frustrated Clearwater Beach parking enforcement officer's comment that it was hard to get Code Enforcement out here was: "What's his name?"
The moral of the story is, if you want to know what parking permits are current and enforceable on Clearwater Beach, just call "Lefty" Kotakis; she has it all on file.
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