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EDITORIAL OPINION EDITORIAL Last fall, long-time Siesta Key resident Marlene Merkle was elated. After almost a year of pleading, first with the Sarasota County Traffic Advisory Council and then with the County Commission, the commis- sioners finally voted on Oct. 23 to ban parking on either side of Avenida de Mayo from Canal Road to Avenida de Cortez. But her elation was short-lived. First, the commissioners voted to allow park- ing on the remainder of Avenida de Mayo, from Avenida de Cortez to Avenida del Norte, in alternating 500-foot swaths. That was clearly a mistake, since those same commis- sioners had been informed by Fire Chief Mike Tobias that emergency vehicles needed at least 20 feet of clear roadway for safe ingress and egress. Yet, the entire length of Avenida de Mayo is barely more than 20 feet, so any parking along that road would reduce the navigable width to dangerous levels. Worse, despite the pleas of officers of the Siesta Key Association that any parking ban be backed up by the threat of towing, the commissioners eschewed this option. Recalling complaints the County Commission had encountered over the towing of vehicles several years earlier — but ignoring the fact that the Legislature subsequently had resolved almost all of those concerns — Commissioner Nora Patterson gravely intoned, "I don't want [towing] to happen on Siesta Key unless our backs are to the wall." Past problems with towing had hurt tourism, she maintained. SIESTA KEY PARKING WOES NEED A STRONGER SOLUTION OPINION

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