Everybody knows Anna Maria Island's problem is really not the "daytrippers" from Manatee County; they have been regulars for decades, and pay taxes that support the island infrastructure and patronize the businesses.
AMI's problem is that it is so unique it is being used for bait by the county tourist board, so that from other counties and around the world, people arrive along the I-75 corridor, Lakewood Ranch, Bradenton, and commercial interests can peel off the visitors coming and going.
The island, however, has finite space; it is full, and there is no room to expand like the rest of the county -- short of going vertical, God forbid, and turning AMI into just another wall of concrete and stucco.
The way to address this is not to punish the county landside residents with parking restrictions and fees. Get to the root of the problem instead:
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1. Dial back on promoting AMI. Focus on the rest of the county's attractions and communities that have blossomed, and at this point can attract tourists where there is space to accommodate them.
2. Cut back on endless festivals, beach weddings, and mega-rental vacation housing on the island. Multiple events during the season just make matters worse.
3. Ramp up traffic control on holidays and during the season.
Special note to businesses on the island: Many of you have been exemplary, and have contributed a lot to the quality of life, especially those that live here.
The well-known mantra for business is "grow or die" and naturally you would like to see more growth and want the traffic. However, the island really is full, and should not be turned into a parking lot.
You all have faced that growing issue. So, if you are going to expand your successful business, think about doing it outside of AMI.