MADEIRA BEACH, Fla. -- Hundreds of prime parking spots could soon disappear in popular areas of Madeira Beach.
City leaders say private lots near John's Pass and scattered along the beach are actually illegal and a violation of the city's code. Madeira Beach's Public information Specialist Curt Preisser says the lots used to have residential buildings, but when they were sold, companies opened them up as parking lots instead.
Madeira Beach leaders now say that's a code violation.
Fixing the problem won't be easy. The lots fill up daily from tourists and locals. Businesses owners worry closing down the lots would turn visitors away.
“If we lose parking inside John's Pass, that would be a huge issue for us,” Dylan Hubbard of Hubbard's Marina explained.
His family has operated a business out of John's Pass for four generations and 90 years.
“A lot of times, a line of cars waiting to park will wrap all the way around the parking garage and back up onto Gulf Boulevard. If you cut out all those spots, it will cut the legs out from under John’s Pass and the businesses here. We would hate to see that happen,” Hubbard said.
Preisser says the city is not out to hurt business owners.
“We don’t want to limit parking. Parking is already at a premium but we also have to do something with regards to being in violation of the zoning code,” Preisser said.
The lots have been operating out of Madeira Beach for years, leaving some businesses to wonder why they have become an issue recently. Preisser says the new administration only recently discovered the issue.
“We have to clean up what didn’t get cleaned up previously. That’s what we’re trying to do,” he added.
“Our family motto is if something’s not broke don’t fix it,” Hubbard added with a sigh.
City leaders plan to meet in a few weeks to figure out if they should ban the private lots or amend zoning rules to allow parking.