City takes on Steube parking rights bill

Editor & Publisher

Right now, if anyone were to back into a public parking space in a parking garage in the City of Sarasota, they could get ticketed. State Senator Greg Steube, R-Bradenton, wants that changed.

In a bill sponsored by Steube, SB-378, the senator seeks to prohibit any county, municipality or governmental entity from adopting or maintaining any rule that would prohibit a driver from receiving a citation for backing into a parking space. In essence, it would make any rules prohibiting back-in parking void.

For Sarasota Mayor Shelli Freeland Eddie the legislation could prove dangerous.

The mayor wrote Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown as well as City Attorney Robert Fournier and Parking Manager Mark Lyons that there are Home Rule considerations but more importantly she asked to be provided with health/safety and welfare reasons as to why the city should be allowed to prohibit back-in parking in municipal parking garages.

Freeland Eddie wrote she would be, “happy to contact him (Steube).”

Brown responded that he was sure the commission could speak to Steube and added that Steube, “has challenged the commissioners to meet with him to discuss any bill which we find problematic.”

Brown added that one issue that came to mind for him is that some of the city parking spaces especially the Palm Avenue garage, are somewhat angled causing the vehicle that is backed in to not only face oncoming garage traffic, but would have to “maneuver in and out of the space in an awkward manner using the narrow driving aisle.”

Parking Manager Mark Lyons wrote that, “If this state law is placed into effect, this is a significant intervention with the city’s ability to self-manage as it deems necessary. If this is accurate record of pending legislation, I am curious how the State can dictate how the City would regulate its own property from back-in parking? Moreover, this pending legislation would fly in the face of reasonable safety practices. Is this a legitimate bill and, if so, how can we fight this?”

On Oct. 25, Steube’s proposed legislation reached the Senate’s Community Affairs, Transportation and Rules committees.

One issue that makes parking enforcement difficult if Steube’s bill is adopted, is the fact that Florida only requires license plates on the rear of vehicles. That would mean parking enforcement employees and police officers would have to physically leave their vehicles to examine license plates and for registration enforcement.

Steube could not be reached for comment as of press time, but the bill is in tandem with his philosophical stance of lessening government regulation.

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