Will the State Step into Island Parking Wars?

Rep. Will Robinson (right). Photo: Florida House of Rep.
Rep. Will Robinson (right). Photo: Florida House of Rep.
Staff Report
BRADENTON — Local members of the state legislature gathered in Bradenton Thursday to discuss priorities ahead of the upcoming annual 60-day legislative session in Tallahassee. Rep. Will Robinson (R-Bradenton) surprised local officials when he previewed plans to introduce legislation that would allow Manatee County to approve its own building permits on county-owned land on Anna Maria Island.

Robinson had unanimous support from other members of the state delegation, including Sen. Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton) Sen. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) Rep. Mike Beltran (R-Manatee/Pinellas) and Rep. Tommy Gregory (R-Manatee). Manatee County Commission Chair Kevin Van Ostenbridge and Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes have long feuded with Holmes Beach Officials, who have taken steps to reduce public parking following a litany of complaints from residents. 

If signed into law, the legislation would pave the way for the county to build a multi-level public parking garage in Holmes Beach. City height restrictions currently prohibit such a structure. Citing a need for more access to the beach by inland residents, officials went one step further, even suggesting the possibility of consolidating the three island cities (Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach, and Anna Maria) into one government. 

"I am disappointed at the position that (Rep. Robinson) has taken regarding preempting city ordinances to construct a parking garage in a coastal community when the city currently and historically has always exceeded the number of parking spaces required for state-funded beach nourishment and interlocal agreements with the county," Holmes Beach Mayor Judy Titsworth told TBT via email on Thursday. "As a mayor in his district, I would have appreciated Mr. Robinson to have, at the very least, given notice prior to getting out of his lane in making such a bold move. At this point in time I shouldn’t be surprised about anything that comes from this district."

The irony in an all-Republican delegation moving to imperil small government didn't seem lost on the island city mayor.

"I believe this is probably the biggest overstep and attack on home rule yet," wrote Titsworth. "Holmes Beach has been incorporated for over 70 years.  We are a vibrant and prosperous city. Our population continues to grow. Our city is responsible for the majority of the contributions to the tourist development tax in the county and has contributed over 30 million dollars since its inception. We continue to improve roads, sidewalks, and storm infrastructure and continue to make public safety a number one goal." 

The mayor said she hoped Rep. Robinson would meet with his island constituents before making such a rash move. 

Reader Comments
Rick Maddox
JAN 20, 2023  •  I think this manufactured conflict has merit on both sides, with a unified municipal government instead of the oft contentious three governments much waste may be removed including lawsuits on really stupid things like tree houses. I would be curious to see the volume of resident complaints concerning visitor parking and misbehavior, it was never a big issue in the past and as I recall perhaps 25% of the complaints were completely unfounded, of course the City Code did state the purpose of most rights of way was to allow parking back then.
Betsy B
JAN 19, 2023  •  Great article TBT as always. Will Robinson and Jim Boyd are in the pockets of Pat and Carlos 100%.
JAN 15, 2023  •  Boyd, Robinson, Beltran, Gruters, Buchanan, Gregory. All part of the DEATHSANTIS hit squad. Thank you TBT for being a beacon of liberal journalism in this Republican cesspool of a county.
JAN 14, 2023  •  So freaking sick of the BOCC and their BS. After the last meeting, seen corruption by the drunk George ‘adulterer’ Kruse, gap tooth Covid Queen Baugh and followed by others except Kevin. Total and utter distinction at their finest. All led by corrupt and conniving attorney Bill “corrupt” Clague. They all need to go.
Baugh Needs to Go
JAN 14, 2023  •  Vanessa Baugh is beyond corrupt. Sells Covid vaccines to the highest bidder. She has a stranglehold over the BOCC. Wait till they reject her settlement order. People are wring in everyday against her. Baugh needs to resign.
JAN 14, 2023  •  What Russell Owens said. I get the sense that the county commissioners want to stick it to the island city because they won't play ball. The County is about to run a boat shuttle, why not a car shuttle? It owns lots of inland property, why not use it? Seems like a win/win. Beach access for county residents and tourists without added congestion for island residents.
JAN 14, 2023  •  The old sage of the Rebublican party said it best"elections have consequences" and "we will tell you our policies when we are elected". So now you know per Mitch McConnell. Don't know who said this "doing the same thing over and over expecting different results" could also apply for voters to consider voting for candidates after vetting that candidate instead of just the R or D after there name.
Russell Owens
JAN 13, 2023  •  For heaven's sake, put the garage on the mainland and provide a shuttle roomy enough for beach paraphernalia!
Save AMI Cities
JAN 13, 2023  •  A group of concerned citizens is putting together a group to try to fight dissolution of the Island Cities. To start, we have created a Facebook Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/saveamicities/) to help us organize and strategize. Any discussion of consolidation should be steered by the Island Cities, rather than the County, who seems bound and determined to ruin the very characteristics that make AMI such a special slice of Paradise.
JAN 13, 2023  •  This is just the first step in the long term project of transforming Bradenton into St. Petersburg. The beaches, however lovely, are small and cannot handle the thousands and thousands of people that want to visit the beach. Adding more parking is only going to bring more headaches to the people who actually live in these communities, more traffic from the people who live outside them, and more frustration as we are forced to face the reality that there is no such thing as limitless growth. Those towns are going to have to transform to serve a much bigger resort community and it needs to be done in an orderly fashion. But, in Manatee County style, that isn't happening. Adding a couple of hundred spaces - even a thousand more spaces - will not make a difference when you are adding over ten thousand residents a year, and even more in season. Every new housing complex that they want to rubber stamp dwarfs the amount of parking that they want to add. There is no coherent vision for this county's development other than 'give Carlos, Pat, Rex and friends what they want.' But what they want doesn't take into account the community's quality of life after they've gone and run off with a thousand lifetimes' worth of money. Sea level rise, traffic, affordable housing, workforce housing, veteran housing, good schools. They DGAF so long as they get theirs. That's not their problem. That's the problem of their puppet politicians. But as long as voters are so easily duped by two pounds of fliers in their mailbox spouting talking points on national issues or culture war BS, this is the kind of government we will get.
Randy Asunto
JAN 13, 2023  •  I agree with Kate putting the parking garage on the unused property formerly the BOA. Would be great, but would have to include a pedestrian bridge. We also must check with Carlos first.
JAN 13, 2023  •  Sea level is rising and is forecast to be at least a foot higher by 2050...the sandy beaches will be about gone! Rep. Robinson also commandeered the $30M purchase of Rattlesnake Key (tax value $2M), which will also be awash by 2050. He is delusional.
Cat L
JAN 13, 2023  •  ... wish I was surprised to see that KVO's garage thing has come back around. (And how ridiculous is the comment below showing how any disagreement MUST be attributed to the group that they hate. Way to be emotionally intelligent, James. lol )
Barbara Foley
JAN 13, 2023  •  Put the garage in Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach already has a an enormous beach parking lot that the county decided to pave and screwed up and now it sits unfinished, and Holmes Beach already has a beach front parking lot, and more than required street parking spaces, Anna Maria offers nothing, it needs to go there.
JAN 13, 2023  •  The parking garage does not have to be right on the beach and it only needs to be 3 or 4 levels. I have said a perfect location would be the old Bank of America property on the corner of Manatee Ave & East Bay Drive. Its a convenient location and short distance to public beach.
JAN 13, 2023  •  Look at all the wittle demorats on here complaining. Cry more and leave the state losers!
JAN 13, 2023  •  Robinson is right. I'm tired of the islands attempts to exclude non-island residents from parking on the island. We pay to re-nourish the beaches but are not allowed to park on their streets.
Aubrey Mills
JAN 13, 2023  •  The Gestapo state of Florida. How are republicans working for you.
Paul D. Smith
JAN 13, 2023  •  The mayor is correct. However, her position does not sell houses or create political contributions.
JAN 13, 2023  •  Wow. Talk about a bunch of hypocrites! Republicans claim to be “against big government” and yet that’s precisely what this bunch of power hungry bullies is advocating for?! Infuriating.
Mark Mays
JAN 13, 2023  •  As a previous supporter of these legislative representatives I’m more than disappointed to see them come together to fight against our Island Communities. I’m a resident and this is an overreach on W.Robinson’s part as well as the others. Yes, the roads are congested at times, yes, doesn’t everyone want to go enjoy these beautiful beaches and many should be able to do it, it just takes a little planning. Don’t make a parking garage your mantra - that will live you down for ever- just because people complain about it. Manatee County, Bradenton and the Island Cities should have the ability to have authenticity prevail. Instead everyone wants to tell each other what their community should look like. Let the residents manage that. The Gulf Coast of Manatee County is unique for a reason, because local people care. Don’t make this a war amongst those in Public Office, because your not in that power seat for ever, your just passing through. Step back and focus on other quality of life issues like supporting mental health programs, child care, veterans and affordable housing, sensibly managing over development.
JAN 13, 2023  •  Duh, maybe Republicans aren't the best choice for us, the people.