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Officials weigh paid parking on Siesta Key

This month the Sarasota County Commission will be discussing the imposition of paid parking on Siesta Key’s public beach accesses. County officials have decided to hold a commission workshop on Feb. 27 at the Country Administration Building to discuss implementing paid parking. Officials argue that the movement towards charged parking would encourage carpooling, resulting in clear roads and greater parking availability, as the Key is a crowded tourist destination.

The workshop is a community forum--therefore, citizens are able to share their thoughts and concerns about the traffic and parking issue. Those who are unable to attend will able to submit their questions and concerns on an online platform.

The workshop’s conversation will consist of considerations such as paid parking, a potential toll to access Siesta Key, expanded trolley routes to provide a park-and-ride service, a bicycle sharing program, water taxi service, and either a surface parking lot or parking garage at a county-owned property along Midnight Pass Road. They will also consider conducting a high-priced traffic and parking planning study.

As Sarasota residents, students express concern on this issue. Many feel this would pose a financial difficulty for teens for whom the beach is free venue for socializing.

“I feel as though parking tolls at the beach would discourage beach attendance for locals and Riverview students. Free parking should be a benefit of being a Sarasota resident. This fee will most likely not reduce traffic effectively in my opinion, especially if there is a long line to pay at a toll,” Angela Szabo ’20 said.

Whether this toll is beneficial to the Key’s traffic flow is undetermined. If students feel strongly about any of the county actions being discussed at the forum, they should feel free to attend or act online.

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