St. Pete Beach parking crackdown infuriates biz owners - WFLA News Channel 8

St. Pete Beach parking crackdown infuriates biz owners

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Empty lots like this are no longer available to St. Pete Beach beachgoers. Empty lots like this are no longer available to St. Pete Beach beachgoers.

New barriers stretch across the entrances to prime parking lots in St. Pete Beach.

Spots where visitors once parked are no longer available, like at closed restaurants. That's putting the squeeze on hotels and restaurants.

Parking lot attendant Nicholas Calitri is the guy with the bad news, when people pull up looking for a spot. “They're coming and saying "where do we go?" 'Where do we go?" He said.

St. Pete Beach leaders are enforcing a city ordinance that prohibits business owners from charging beach goers to use their lots, unless they have a permit.

On Wednesday, a Pinellas code deputy warned owners, setting off a frenzy.

At the Howard Johnson Hotel, there are just not enough spaces for guests, guest's guests, and restaurant customers.

It used to send people across the street, or to a closed burger joint, or to a nearby scooter store.

Those options are gone.

“If we cannot provide this type of parking amenity to our guests and to our tourists, they're just gonna go somewhere else. This place will become a ghost town,” said Hotel General Manager Mina Phomphakdy.

A restaurant general manager worries, business will drop. ”I'm afraid that's gonna turn people away. People are gonna be afraid to come out here and park. They're afraid wherever they leave their car, it might get towed,” asserted Ryan Cyr.

A place known for hospitality could get a bad reputation if tourists feel unwelcome.

“It's very frustrating because I'm out here and like helping people. I like people to come to the beach. I like to promote the businesses all over the beach,” said lot attendant Nicholas Calitri.

A call to the St. Pete Beach City hall office that manages parking was not returned.

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