ANNA MARIA -- Buffeted by huge crowds of beachgoers, officials at the city of Anna Maria are planning to consider the idea of charging for parking for the first time.
"It's not something any of us want to do," said Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn on Wednesday.
Still, the commission is slated to discuss the idea "conceptually" at a meeting next week, she said.
The small city at the northern tip of Anna Maria Island did an informal count over the Fourth of July weekend, and found that 51,000 cars had come or gone from the city over a five- or six-day period, the mayor said.
"The residents stock up on food and don't leave their homes or go to the beach because of gridlock and parking problems," said the mayor.
Opposing the idea of charging for parking Wednesday was beachgoer Suzanne Ukleja, 37, of Lithia, near Tampa.
She was at the Anna Maria beach with her kids, she said.
"This is easy here, so easy," she said. "Why make it more difficult?"
Her companion, Shannon Derby, 39, also of Lithia, added: "It's a terrible idea; we come from Lithia, by Tampa, so we spend a lot of money on gas to get here," she said. "So that's (parking fees) more money."
Parking costs would probably drive her to another beach that does not charge anything, she added..