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Panama City Beach Police Department cracks down on parking lot parties

Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 9:10 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Panama City Beach police and city officials are working to put a stop to what they call “parking lot parties.” New ordinances were adopted at Thursday night’s city council meeting that emphasized the need for businesses to take responsibility for their lots.

It’s as simple as pull in, park the car, and walk to your destination. But some people aren’t leaving the parking lots.

“It’s a large group and it got to the point where it was pretty out of control. A ton of litter. A ton of waste. A ton of bad, bad music, bad language. Dressing inappropriately,” Firefly owner and Shoppes at Edgewater partner Dave Trepanier said.

“The problem happens when we respond and we take care of a situation and the problem is no longer present. When we leave, the business owner doesn’t take responsibility for that property and prevents it from happening again. So then we’re called back,” Police Chief J.R. Talamantez said.

Trepanier said they had parking lot issues as recently as a month ago and knew they had to do something.

“We’re trying to do what we can do just to help the police because they’re pretty overwhelmed with all this happening. There’s only so many of them and there’s several hundred of the others so it’s tough,” Trepanier said.

Edgewater officials said they hired security and put up some extra lights to help prevent any future issues. Harpoon Harry’s employees said they’ve also added security.

“Security kind of pushes them off of the street and disperses the crowd. It’s also helpful because you know cops are going to take a long time to come so just having that like security to just pop out, makes it easy,” Harpoon Harry’s employee Cody Selby said.

Talamantez said they’re cracking down on businesses that don’t take similar responsibility.

“To keep their parking lots clear of crime. To keep their business from spilling out into the roadway. They’re adversely affecting public safety and they need to do something about it,” Talamantez said.

Fines for things like noise violations, drinking in parking lots, and causing a nuisance have all gone from $100 to $500 for the first offense.

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