Panama City Beach leaders and business owners work to address “pop-up” parties in parking lots

Panama City Beach

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Panama City Beach City Council members and business owners are working together to put a stop to pop-up parties in parking lots across the area.

It’s an issue that residents have said they’re seeing more of on the beach, as people continue to pour in during one of the busiest tourist seasons the area has ever seen. On Tuesday, the city council held a special meeting to discuss the problem with the public.

Panama City Beach Mayor, Mark Sheldon, said with an increased flow of people visiting, there has been an increase in issues arising from the pop-up events, where people are gathering in parking lots with loud music.

These incidents were also a problem for the city last year around this time, with a fight breaking out at a pop-up party at the “Circle K” convenience store on South Thomas Drive and Front Beach Road.

In 2021, Sheldon said the city has already spent $100 thousand for mutual aid from other agencies to handle the crowd issues they’ve been having.

Some business owners in the area have also said the pop-up events in parking lots are creating problems for their stores.

“This year it’s really gotten bad,” said Jim Bradley, owner of Shipwreck LTD on Front Beach Road. “We’ve had to close early, several hours early because people can’t get in the parking lot. It’s filled with people partying. My employees actually have safety issues on what’s going on out there.”

City Council members said they need help from business owners to police their parking lots, but owners like Bradley said it’s difficult to break up the crowds themselves and police resources are often stretched thin.

Ideas for how the City should move forward with managing the issue were discussed at Tuesday morning’s meeting.

The City’s legal team will now work with those ideas and others to bring possible new measures in front of the council at the regular meeting on Thursday night, which could include increased fines for people who engage in or contribute to these parties.

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