PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — After a special meeting earlier this week, Panama City Beach city leaders have unanimously approved the first readings of four new measures to prevent pop-up parking lot events.
From increased fines, to penalties imposed on uncooperative businesses, the ordinance changes were discussed at Thursday night’s city council meeting.
City leaders said pop-up parties have created public safety issues, and they’re hoping the new measures will discourage them from happening.
“I think it’s going to be a great tool for our law enforcement to be able to get out there and kind of clear out some of these issues we’re having,” said City Councilman Geoff McConnell. “We’re increasing some fines to be stiffer to give a little bit more repercussions to people who don’t do what they’re supposed to do within those areas.”
Four new measures have passed through their first readings, and will become effective if passing through second readings at June 10th’s regular meeting. The measures raise the fines for drinking and playing loud music in parking lots, as well as increase penalties for businesses that repeatedly have pop-up party issues in their parking lots.
“It’s your private property,” McConnell said. “You should be able to control your own private property and what happens on there.”
If approved, people caught playing loud music in parking lots, public or private, could receive a first-offense fine of $250, raised from $100 previously. Anyone caught drinking on public parking lots could face a $500 penalty with each offense. For businesses, each public nuisance violation could result in a $500 fine; If the business does not correct the problem, they will be fined $500 each day correction tools such as floodlights and security officers aren’t utilized.
“We will also reach back, provide those for you and then for every day that you are not in compliance doing it on your own we will fine that business 500 dollars a day,” McConnell said.
However, some business owners in the community said earlier this week it’s not that easy, as the parties can get out of control even after attempting to break them up. The council said local law enforcement is there to step in but businesses need to be doing their due diligence to prevent the parties in the first place, with flood lights and security officers if necessary.
Interim PCBPD Chief Chad Lindsey said he hopes the new measures will help officers keep the community safer.
“That will help curb some behavior once that word gets out that we’re not playing,” he said. “These rules are serious, they are enforceable and they are being enforced.”
The ordinances will be read again and voted on at the city council’s June 10th meeting. If approved, they will go into effect immediately.