POLL: Parking tickets at home tick off some Island residents

Officials say blocking sidewalks is causing child safety concerns

Article Highlights

  • Councilors question whether delaying the resort rental ordinance and increasing enforcement of current ordinances is causing more problems
  • Councilman Chuck Kiester, whose guest was ticketed while parked at his home, warned of the risk of blocking sidewalks and leaving children no where to walk but in the street
  • Readers with multiple tickets or warnings are to go to Police Chief Thom Carr, bring the tickets to the police department and he "will see to it that it does not happen again.”

Do you think it’s fair that Islanders are getting tickets for blocking sidewalks, on lawns or parking in swales?

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Parking ordinances are getting strict enforcement by request of residents and city leaders, Eric Wardle, Chief of Code Compliance, reports.

Submitted City of Marco Island

Parking ordinances are getting strict enforcement by request of residents and city leaders, Eric Wardle, Chief of Code Compliance, reports.

Parking on the lawn, in swales and blocking sidewalks is not only a nuisance, it's a safety issue, officials report. With school starting up, officials are concerned it can leave children no place to walk, but in the street.

Submitted City of Marco Island

Parking on the lawn, in swales and blocking sidewalks is not only a nuisance, it's a safety issue, officials report. With school starting up, officials are concerned it can leave children no place to walk, but in the street.

— Several Marco residents are getting tickets before they even leave their driveways, leaving some Islanders and elected officials saying police and code officials are going too far.

“We do not issue citations for parking in driveways, however we do issue citations for blocking sidewalks,” said Eric Wardle, chief of code compliance.

Wardle said police were asked to assist with parking problems occurring on nights and weekends, including parking in swales, on lawns and obstructing sidewalks.

Police Chief Thom Carr said officials are working to reeducate citizens of ordinances that have been on the books for years.

“We have received many complaints about blocked sidewalks, so we must take some enforcement action,” Carr said.

City Councilman Ted Forcht said he has been receiving dozens of e-mails about residents upset over getting ticketed in their own driveways since this “beefed up enforcement” began in August.

City Manager Steve Thompson followed up on the issue and said that “over the past few weeks police and code compliance have stepped up efforts to address parking and neighborhood disruption, as discussed with City Council, and we do continue to receive calls about parking enforcement efforts.”

Parking problems were among several code violations, including noise and high-occupancy, being reported by neighbors of short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods. When City Council decided earlier this summer to delay approving an ordinance to regulate resort rentals, councilors also discussed stricter enforcement of the ordinances already on the books.

Forcht said he didn’t think council agreed to beef up enforcement so strictly.

“Aggressive enforcement is something I’m opposed to ... I knew we’d run into this problem,” Forcht said of the complaints he is getting from “real residents.”

The complaints are coming from full-time residents, whose bumpers went over the bottom edge of the driveway and into the sidewalk, not the weekend visitor, he explained.

“They’re saying they are getting a ticket at 3 a.m. Sunday night and then another one is left on their car at 11 a.m.,” Forcht reported.

“If some of your readers have multiple tickets or warnings, I would encourage them to bring them to me at the police department and I will see to it that it does not happen again,” Carr assured this reporter.

Blocking sidewalks and parking in the swales between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. has been a reported problem over the past several months and many of the issues are presently addressed with warning citations, Thompson reported.

Resident Lisa Meurgue was among the dozens of residents who contacted Forcht and other councilors after vehicles were ticketed at her home. She wanted to understand why.

City Councilman Chuck Kiester responded, saying one of his house guests was also a target of the beefed up parking enforcement.

“While it is not a safety issue at 2:45 a.m., it could become one beginning as early as 6 a.m. for children trying to ride their bicycles or walk to school being forced out onto the street, where, as fall approaches and vehicle drivers may be unable to see as clearly in their rush to the office, it could lead to a worst-case scenario,” Kiester said.

Another Marco resident, Gina Sisbarro, wasn’t able to be reached over the holiday weekend, but was among the residents who sent e-mail to City Council in late August upset about getting ticketed while parked at home.

She said a special interest group was demanding this action to the detriment of good residents and neighborhoods.

Kiester said it appears the enforcement agencies were taking the direction of council too far when they decided to address short-term rental problems by enforcing the ordinances already on the books. He said current ordinances need to be enforced, but an ordinance to address the problems of resort rentals in particular would be better.

“I say use discretion and ticket those vehicles or deal with those home owners who are abusing the situation and becoming a nuisance in that particular neighborhood. Why go after neighborhoods that do not have a problem and neighbors are not complaining?” Sisbarro wrote to City Council.

Sisbarro went on to say that police are her heroes. “Don’t make them a nuisance for following orders … This is supposed to be Marco Island, not Gestapo Island.”

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Comments » 22

Marconian writes:

Just curious to the statement of riding bicycles on the sidewalk. unless its a designated bike path such as the 8 ft wide sidewalks on collier or the new bike paths on the shoulder of several of our streets aren't you by law to ride your bikes on the street with the flow of traffic as we where taught to do in like the 1st grade at bicycle safety class. Or does putting pedestrians walking on the sidewalk (NOT RIDE) in harms way of being hit by a bicyclist sound a little more dangerous! If they cant see a 4,000 lb vehicle in a driveway how will they see a human being!
Sounds like BULL to me and I can see why people are upset!!! give tickets to the parents that let there children ride a bike to school in the early hours without reflective clothing on or lights and reflectors on there bike.
And wasn't this parking issue brought about due to lack of parking at businesses why are you targeting residential neighborhoods?
Isn't it suppose to be Serve and protect. Sounds like Harass and Collect!!!

ezeee writes:

As long as I have been a resident of Marco Island (20 years) it has been permissible to ride bicycles on sidewalks. I don’t see what the problem is, city ordinance prohibits parking in the swales at certain times and city ordinance prohibits blocking the sidewalk. These are not new ordinances they have been on the books for quite some time and most if not all residents are aware or should be aware of them. It doesn’t sound like harassment to me, sounds like the Police and Code Enforcement are doing their jobs. As I recall, at a recent council meeting the council asked for more enforcement from the Police Department and Code Enforcement on these issues.

playballonK writes:

I've recently received such a violation,i don't want to have my picture on the arrest log with the other rummies.

jaguar writes:

Why did I know as I read this article it would be the short term renters fault,some of you are just beyond belief.I suspose its also the renters fault that theres noise at the Esplanade.Oh and while your at it the road surfaces are wearing thin that must be the renters.Remember what,s good for the Goose is good for the Gander.Rules are rules for everyone.As for MARCUP ISLAND having some Gestapo like tendancies, this has been evident for a few years now.I,m suprised this had,nt been noticed before by more of you.

catey58 writes:

My husband & I both received violations (no warnings)for parking over the sidewalk. The sidewalk in question ends at our property line where there is an empty lot. The sidewalk is interrupted in several places along the street wherever there is an empty lot. In six years of full-time residence I have never seen this "sidewalk" used by anyone. If our public servants have this kind of time on their hands perhaps the taxpayers would be better served by laying them off rather than supporting their positions by paying these harassing fines.

SaraBeth (Inactive) writes:

Hmmm....let me think about this.

Am I more concerned with children and others...having to leave the safety of the sidewalk...to walk around a vehicle that protrudes into the sidewalk and/or swale area?

Or...the home owner that finds it necessary to park their vehicle on the sidewalk...because???

Why would one find it necessary to park on the sidewalk..or in the swale area to begin with? Own too many cars for your driveway? Your garage full of junk and your vehicle doesn't have space to be stored?

You find it OK to use public property for your convenience? Either ticket the abusers...or charge them a parking fee.

MrBreeze writes:

Jaguar, Why not defend your "Flophouse Renters" some more. I have an idea, everyone should pave around their homes so there is parking for all including your "Renters". This way we can all be assured that your income will not be disturbed.

chicky writes:

How about the people with the unsightly messy rocks in their swales. They all use them as parking lots, and the rocks are always in the road. I never see their vehicals with tickets on them!

freedame writes:

Let me see if I have this correct: Parking is not allowed in the swale, nor is it allowed in the street. Residents are not allowed to block the sidewalk, regardless of whether the sidewalk is totally useless due to it beginning/ending in an empty lot. Thus, it seems to me that those folks who have short driveways must levitate their vehicles that don't fit in the driveway. Perhaps we need to obtain the services of Chris Angel here to make those extra vehicles disappear during nighttime hours.

This is beyond ridiculous.

SaraBeth (Inactive) writes:

This is beyond ridiculous?

Why should everyone else be inconvenienced because a homeowner does not have ample space to park their vehicles?

The sidewalk is for all to walk on..the roadway is for all to drive on...neither are the "private" parking area for a homeowner.

JohninMarco writes:

This is a poor policy. If the police chief was honest, this RE-EDUCATION of the public would have started with a piece in the local newspaper to inform the residents of his policy. Next warnings should be issued prior to the issuing of tickets. The city manager as well as the city council should maybe RE-Educate the chief. I believe most PD'S motto's are to protect and SERVE!

Marconian writes:

Well we obviously have a variety of opinions on this topic and that's great!
know since it was brought to everyone's attention. why is there so many vacant lots with out a sidewalk?
It is city property and if someone was to walk of the end and fall and break something wouldn't the city be liable?
I make a movement in the name of safety for the city to install sidewalks in every area where they stop and start vacant lots...etc...

SaraBeth (Inactive) writes:

in response to JohninMarco:

This is a poor policy. If the police chief was honest, this RE-EDUCATION of the public would have started with a piece in the local newspaper to inform the residents of his policy. Next warnings should be issued prior to the issuing of tickets. The city manager as well as the city council should maybe RE-Educate the chief. I believe most PD'S motto's are to protect and SERVE!

This isn't the Police Chiefs policy. He is enforcing a law that is already on the books in Florida.

Florida’s Pedestrian Traffic Laws

No person shall stop, stand or park a vehicle on a sidewalk [§316.1945(1)]. Although the pavement
surface may change at a driveway, the legal sidewalk extends across the driveway. Blocked sidewalks force pedestrians to enter the roadway.

I think that would constitute the Police Chief..."Serving and Protecting" the community.

SaraBeth (Inactive) writes:

in response to Marconian:

Well we obviously have a variety of opinions on this topic and that's great!
know since it was brought to everyone's attention. why is there so many vacant lots with out a sidewalk?
It is city property and if someone was to walk of the end and fall and break something wouldn't the city be liable?
I make a movement in the name of safety for the city to install sidewalks in every area where they stop and start vacant lots...etc...

Great idea!
Do you propose the lot owners be billed for the sidewalk installations...or raise resident taxes to accomplish your "movement?"

JohninMarco writes:

in response to SaraBeth:

This isn't the Police Chiefs policy. He is enforcing a law that is already on the books in Florida.

Florida’s Pedestrian Traffic Laws

No person shall stop, stand or park a vehicle on a sidewalk [§316.1945(1)]. Although the pavement
surface may change at a driveway, the legal sidewalk extends across the driveway. Blocked sidewalks force pedestrians to enter the roadway.

I think that would constitute the Police Chief..."Serving and Protecting" the community.

Your statement reflexs what is wrong with the chief and HIS re-education of the residents. Total LACK of common-sense. Cops have discretion in issuing or NOT issuing a ticket. You can put lipstick on this pig but it is still a pig and the city council now knows it.

SaraBeth (Inactive) writes:

"Total LACK of common-sense."

Now that is an intellectual statement.
Try this for "common sense"...

Don't park on the sidewalk...and you won't get a ticket.

Furthermore..."re-education"...of what?

Common Courtesy?...it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that one is blocking a sidewalk...if they park their vehicle on it.

Some of you are absolutely ridiculous.

The sidewalk, roadway or swale areas are not public parking lots.

jaguar writes:

in response to MrBreeze:

Jaguar, Why not defend your "Flophouse Renters" some more. I have an idea, everyone should pave around their homes so there is parking for all including your "Renters". This way we can all be assured that your income will not be disturbed.

My rental income is not the issue here nor is it of any importance to me I neither rely or need it.This is about illegal and inconsiderate parking that could result in injury to a child or an eldery person and God knows there are plenty of those on the Island.Lets just consentrate on this please.Save your usual drivel for another day and discuss the issue in front of you.

Dingo writes:

in response to freedame:

Let me see if I have this correct: Parking is not allowed in the swale, nor is it allowed in the street. Residents are not allowed to block the sidewalk, regardless of whether the sidewalk is totally useless due to it beginning/ending in an empty lot. Thus, it seems to me that those folks who have short driveways must levitate their vehicles that don't fit in the driveway. Perhaps we need to obtain the services of Chris Angel here to make those extra vehicles disappear during nighttime hours.

This is beyond ridiculous.

Let me offer a slight correction to your email. I've hi-lited the appropriate sections of the ordinance for your convenience.

Sec. 50-37. Prohibited parking.
…., no person shall:
(1) Stop, stand or park a vehicle:
(a) ……..
(c) On a sidewalk, bike path, or bike lane; if any portion of a vehicle obstructs or projects over the edge of the sidewalk, bike path, or bike lane, the vehicle is in violation of this section;

……
(3) Stand or park a vehicle on a swale, or in a swale area, whether the vehicle is occupied or not, except momentarily to pick up or discharge a passenger, or passengers, or property, under the following circumstances:
(a) Between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.;
This means that you can't leave a car parked in the swale over night.
Pavements are NOT for parking cars. They are for pedestrian, non-motorized traffic. If I, as a pedestrian, am forced to walk around your car parked illegally over a pavement, then I think it only fair that you should contribute a little extra (fine) into the coffers of Marco Island. This helps to pay for all the services that YOU REQUIRE in order to be a considerate, good citizen.

slowsky writes:

The cops are always the bad guys. Has anyone noticed that for years nothing has been done about parking on the swale and or parking on the sidewalk. All I can say is that the officers have a boss, the officers boss has a boss and so on. Now take a guess who is making this happen. Stop hating the cops on the Island. I bet any amount that most have received a simple warning and cry at that. My fellow Marco Islanders are spoiled. My thoughts are write one warning then cite.

chicky writes:

Well said Jaguar, and slowsky! Very well done Marco island police.. Keep it up. It's great to have them on the island!!

Marconian writes:

Great idea!
Do you propose the lot owners be billed for the sidewalk installations...or raise resident taxes to accomplish your "movement?"
Does it really matter does a lot without a walkway not result in a pedestrian having to enter the roadway which is being deemed as unsafe now this is your and others opinion on this! entering the roadway by whatever reason car in a drive or a lot full of sand spurs and stickers the only solution on how to never enter the road due to sidewalk obstruction or no sidewalk at all is to install sidewalks where none exist.personally though if im walking on a sidewalk and a vehicle is obstructing the walkway I simply walk the extra 6 feet around the vehicle via driveway apron I don't walk down the street but I am forced to walk the street when there isn't any sidewalk at all!

catey58 writes:

If the purpose is to educate - there are better ways but at least warn first then ticket. However, no money for city coffers in that.
If the purpose is to protect children - then, by all means, there should be an immediate movement to complete every sidewalk on the island.

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