Residents roiled by Mar Vista restaurant parking

Editor & Publisher

Scores of Longboat Key residents implored the Town Commission to regulate or control in some fashion the parking by restaurant patrons on public streets in the Village.

Via both letters and at public hearings, the complaints say the Mar Vista Restaurant on the North end of Longboat Key uses its recently initiated valet service to overtake public parking on streets throughout the community. Several residents complained that the Longboat Police do not patrol the Village adequately and in addition to the congestion, speed limit violations are endemic. In essence, the basis of the complaints center on the fact that the Mar Vista and the soon-to-open Shore Restaurant are completely surrounded by residentially-zoned property.

The Town Commission will discuss possible remedies at a March 19 workshop that include additional parking restrictions, prohibit valet operators on town property or an elimination of public parking in specific areas.

Currently, town code does not prohibit private valet use of public parking spaces. Although public parking spaces adjacent to the town public boat ramp and dock are identified as being available only for users of those facilities, residents say the Mar Vista’s valet parking service are stacking vehicles there.

The Mar Vista Restaurant has only 28 parking spaces on its property and receives seating credit for six boat slips and one bicycle rack. Although the Mar Vista has expanded over the past decade to a 169-seat restaurant, the parking requirements in place were accepted through a Commercial Revitalization Parking Waiver approved in 2006 according to Town Planning, Zoning and Building Director Allen Parsons.

Parsons as well as Town Manager Tom Harmer will ask the commission on Monday for direction. A few options suggested the prohibition of valet operators using public parking spaces on any town property or public street, restricting certain parking spaces for residents only and provide for residential parking permits or stickers, or completely eliminating public parking in certain areas. Of course, there is the option of making no changes to town code or regulations.

Town Staff has proffered to the commissioners samples of code language to achieve some or any of the above options.

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