Sunday, June 28, 2009

Problems on the Bayside Street Ends

I'm looking for some help here, as I'm deeply conflicted. Here's the issue: on some nights or even during the days, people camp out on the street ends, often leaving a nice pile of beer containers and trash, and sometimes partying quite loudly and smoking whacky tobaccy. These street ends, which number more than 20, are like mini-parks and several offer pretty good fishing as well. So we're trying to figure out how to control that, which keeping the public roadways public and improving on bay access (nice sunsets, too). The rowdy behavior happens mainly during the peak summer tourist days and the 4th of July should be a real corker if this beautiful weather keeps going.

We have all kinds of ordinances against parking in the street, noise, littering, drinking, loitering, peeing in public, and all kinds of nuisances and misdemeanors in addition to the state laws. But a group of concerned residents want more, such as to have curfews, no parking, no fishing, and more signs. Here's where they start to lose me - if we already have the enforcement tools, what good will putting up three signs do? You still need a cop or a code enforcement officer to make the patrols, do surveillance, and catch the perp. Frankly, I never saw a sign that was very effective, that is unless it says "Free food, free gasoline, free prizes."

So we have about three to five street ends that seem to have a problem, as well as some very irate residents. It certainly isn't all of the plus-20 street ends that have a problem, and our street ending doesn't. So you have some very vocal citizens who want something, anything to help them. So the question is how to address such a legitimate concern while not over-regulating the whole bayside of the island.

My initial thoughts are that there is a mightly temptation to write an ordinance and put up signs as a "feel good, law and order" kind of thing. Remember, we still have all the enforcement tools and that is exactly what it is - public land. "Public" means not just the property owners on that street, but anybody legally here in the United States. I also fear that some of the draconian rules could prevent me from enjoying my street end - what if I want to fish at night under a full moon? I just don't know, other than some people think such an ordinance would make their street safer, raise property values, and make the neighborhood more "friendly." (Do you see the irony there too? Friendly for kicking people off your street?)

Basically I think you're trying to run off anybody you don't like.

I realize that we don't have the Open Beaches Act for the bayside, which on the Gulf requires open access to the beach as if it was a state park. You can't discriminate against non-locals there. And I realize there is bayside one street in particular, named Campeche, that is the problem child that needs to be addressed -- it has the best shore fishing on the island. But obviously, I'm deeply conflicted abut how to proceed. Thanks for any thoughts.


Anonymous said...

Enforce the existing laws and the problem might go away.

Anonymous said...

We also live on bayside and have problems. We have thought recently, how about (city) trash barrels to start? I know, even though handy they might not be used.Still, there aren't any, so that would seem a start. Then officer friendly drives by REALLY and truly friendly every 2 hours? Just a slow drive by with lots of waving and hello....unless something is OBVIOUSLY Very wrong.A special, slightly more curious drive by around 10 and then again around 2 or 3 am maybe? Make sure everyone is real quiet and not trashing everything.Wouldnt take that long most nights...just drive down street, nice routine check. Extra trash cans a pain for public works, but better than trash on lawns...soon to blow into bay.


Sam said...

I appreciate the comments and value them highly. Our meeting is at 3 o'clock today (Tuesday) so feel free to comment however you want.

island princess said...

Ha Ha. The only signs that work say free food, free gas. HA HA. That was funny cuz it's so true. I love you, Sam.