PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Private boat owners are asking commissioners to regulate activity at city boat ramps and parks.
They said charter boats and small watercraft rental businesses are blocking access to the ramps and taking up the parking spaces. City officials are considering a plan to prohibit commercial use on boat ramps and city parks without permits.
The City of Panama city proposed an ordinance at Tuesday’s meeting to provide an even playing field for residents and visitors who use public boat ramps and city parks.
The problems involve commercial vendors using public boat ramps, creating congestion, parking issues, noise, and trespassing violations.
It’s only gotten worse after Bay County commissioners recently passed a similar ordinance.
“Right now it’s kind of a free for all,” Panama City Commissioner Josh Street said. “So as the county to clamp down on some of the activity that’s happened in their areas of the county, the City of Panama City Beach has done the same and is kind of pushed everything across the bridge in St. Andrews and across the city. So our hope is that we are going to create a fair process for people to engage because we want people to do business in the City of Panama City.”
The ordinance will allow commercial vendors to use certain specified boat ramps with the proper permit.
Neighborhood boat ramps will only be for neighborhood use.
“We don’t want to have 15 jet ski rentals all along Carl Gray Park,” Street said. “That doesn’t mean we can’t have some commercial activity, that just means it needs to be regulated to the point that it’s not going to interfere with average everyday use.”
Street said they will hold a workshop on the ordinance to create a transparent and fair process for use of public boat ramps and parks.
“There are people out there that aren’t paying coast guard fees, aren’t paying state fees or captains fees or anything else,” Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki said. “Which we can’t regulate all that, but we still need to get a handle on it to make sure that we do try to get people as legal as possible.
The workshop to discuss the ordinance will be held between now and their commission meeting on August 9.