Rules and regulations for the beaches of Anna Maria Island are governed by Florida State Law, the code of ordinances of Manatee County plus the additions and modifications within the 3 cities of Anna Maria, Holmes Beach, and Bradenton Beach, that comprise the municipalities of the island.
The beach is considered a ‘park’ for the purposes of applicable codes and enforcement of rules. Alleys and paths to the beach are included as ‘entryways’. Some special rules apply at the county public beach parks Anna Maria Bayfront Park, Coquina Bayside Park, Coquina Gulfside Park, and Manatee Beach Park where there are facilities and areas zoned for specific uses, and lifeguards.
Sometimes at this time of year, the residents of Anna Maria Island begin to feel as if they are operating bed and breakfasts. One set of guests leaves and there is barely time to wash and dry the sheets before the next visitors arrive. It is no wonder friends and family from up North want to visit paradise at this time of year but, while the guests are reveling in paradise, their hosts can start to feel as if it’s “paradise lost.” A constant stream of even the most considerate visitors can hinder residents from focusing on their own favorite island activities. Before they know it, the best season is over and it’s time to turn on the air conditioning and retreat inside.
There are many ways to cope with living in a place everyone else wants to visit. One Islander, formerly of Chicago, sent a card to all his friends when he moved here, announcing that they were welcomed to visit in Anna Maria Island, but only if they had previously visited him in Chicago. This was the acid test to prove that the guests were not just using the friendship as an excuse to have free accommodations in paradise. If they really were visiting for reasons of friendship, they would have visited in Chicago, too.
Another way to cope with having too much company is to not have a guest room. Silly as this may sound, it seems to be a possibility that many islanders have seriously considered. They talk openly about it. In fact, in early years, when researching accommodations for guests at the island information center, I explained to the sweet ladies working there that I had no extra room for guests, but that we were planning to build an addition for this purpose. I was surprised to be sternly advised by one of the ladies not to add a room for guests, or I’d be sorry. Maybe she was just trying to promote more business for the island hotels and motels. But I had the feeling she was giving me a sincere warning.
The longer I live on Anna Maria, the more I appreciate the brown pelicans that live here year-round. At first glance, they seem so much less beautiful than their large white cousins who migrate here in winter and therefore are less “common.” But there are some very special things about the brown pelican and we are lucky to have them in Florida and on the island. I believe they are very sensitive to environmental degradation, so their presence is not only a joy, but also a reassuring sign.
Brown pelicans have a wing span of about 84 inches, compared to the 108 inch wingspan of the American White Pelican. One of the most surprising things to witness is a brown pelican feeding by diving from the air. There is a big splash, as the bill enters the water to catch a fish and the body of the bird continues a little farther so the bird lands, twisting over its bill, so it ends up facing the opposite direction from that in which it was going. If one looks at it at this point, it’s often difficult to figure out what one is looking at. The head may still be down in the water and body still twisted. The impression is simply that something very large is partly submerged and partly visible. It often takes me awhile to realize it’s just a brown pelican fishing.
Low speed vehicles, golf carts or golf cars, are becoming more appealing these days for the short errands and neighborhood trips we often do, going to the beach, the golf course, the school bus stop, and the local stores.
Holmes Beach has allowed limited on road use of LSV and golf carts for the last year over city streets. The limitation is at the intersection of State-controlled Manatee Ave SH64, and Gulf Drive where Department of Highways prohibits their use. Officials are in the process of finding ways to allow passage to the Publix supermarket on East Bay Drive.
Bradenton Beach will discuss the use of LSV in its meeting Thursday, July 17, for transporting people from Coquina Beach to the Bridge Street historic commercial district. Previously the city rejected extending the trolley bus service to include Bridge Street.