PCB City Council Talks Spring Break Changes

PANAMA CITY BEACH - Panama City Beach City Council members are considering a package of proposed ordinances regulating spring break.

They say the recommendations are designed to clean up the event, not run it out of town.

Panama City Beach Police Chief Drew Whitman presented the list of 20 recommendations to improve spring break safety and behavior.

Whitman said, "We tried to find a happy medium. There is an extreme far of a group that wants it shut down and there's another group that says leave it like it is."

Most critics are upset over what they call a series of unfair reports that appeared on Fox News' Hannity Show.

Whitman's list includes 2 major changes.

The first would impose a year round ban open alcohol containers and coolers on the beach.

Some business owners say that change alone will have a negative impact.

"If we eliminate alcohol on the beach, we will eliminate spring break," said Julie Hilton, VP Paradise Resorts.

Whitman said, "The hot topic issue today [Thursday] was definitely the alcohol on the beach, it seemed like everybody was against that. I didn't hear anyone talk positive about that."

The other would move the closing time for beach bars from 4:00 a.m. to 2 a.m.

That too would be a year round change.

"They are not happy about the two o'clock change, but they respect our position and I respect them and will work them if that is what the city council wants us to do."

Other recommendations include additional law enforcement and emergency medical services and additional K-9 units to combat drug use.

"We need to hear the public, we need to hear not only the business owners and the churches but we need to hear from the citizens and that give us an overall perspective," said Gayle Oberst, Panama City Beach Mayor.

City Manager Mario Gisbert will get more input from each council member, review the list, then present it at the next council meeting in two weeks.

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Here's a list of 20 "Consolidated Spring Break Considerations"

1) Provide additional law enforcement and emergency medical services support during spring break; coordinate with TDC, Businesses & Guest Properties

2) Provide additional K-9 units

3) Allow no alcoholic beverages on the beaches (sand) or parking lots, during college Spring Break

4) Restrict any type of cooler regardless of size or shape, on white sandy portion of beach during College Spring Break. This would still allow our residents and guests to consumer a single alcoholic beverage on the beach, but would eliminate the large parties with coolers with usually contribute to the underage drinkers.

5) Any person who is in possession of an alcoholic beverage must have a valid state issued picture identification card/license on person.

6) Require all bars, nightclubs, restaurants or any establishment that serves or sells alcoholic beverages to stop the sale of said item at 2:00 A.M -- 365 days a year.

7) During Spring Break, require all bars, clubs, and other establishment located on Panama City Beach and the unincorporated area west of the Hathaway Bridge to stop serving alcoholic beverages at least by 2:00 A.M. and possibly earlier.

8) Aggressively enforce capacity limits and fire safety ordinances during Spring Break at condo, hotels and clubs.

9) Use TDC advertising money currently spent on college Spring Break to advertise what you can't do here and all new laws and ordinances.

10) Close all City-owned parking lots at 5:00 P.M. every day, but install an exit gate to allow the guest to leave at any time.

11) Beach Side night curfew

12) Allow only one Special Event on the sandy portion of the beach per day.

13) Require additional support staff 3-officers per 1,000-guests to the special events permit

14) To require the Event organizer to fence off the event area and to take responsibility of their property including check point. This has worked on the beach in the past.

15) Prohibit the digging of any holes on the sandy portion of the beach. This is not only a safety issue for emergency personnel, but for people just walking on the beach. Some of the holes are large enough to hold right to ten people and illegal activities along with sexual misconduct do occur within them. Require street side and beach side restrooms in areas with large concentrations of visitors.

16) Require street side and beach side restrooms in areas with large concentrations of visitors.

17) Strengthen Scooter regulations, insurance, monitoring and enforcement.

18) Work with property owners in order to better manage beach areas and activities

19) Work with property owners in order to better manage guest on property and in rooms

20) We must continue to meet with members of our community once a week during Spring Break and regulatory throughout the year, searching for new ideas.


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