As I entered our "quaint island village" down Gulf Drive this holiday period, I was confronted, like everyone else, with the large, flashing, ugly sign "welcoming" visitors with all the rules they better not break this weekend.
This sign is in stark contrast with the "community aesthetics," which has small business owners quaking in their boots as they seek permission for any kind of exterior sign inviting people to their business while our government takes sign pollution to extreme levels.
In my opinion it's emblematic of an ugly spirit that has been developing for some time. It's a spirit of exclusion, rooted in the fear of all the things that might go wrong.
Awhile back we had "day tripper." This was properly called out for its classism, elitism and not so subtle racism.
At the bottom of it was the presumption that only those rich enough and lucky enough to have gotten here first should enjoy free access to our beaches, restaurants and shopping.
Now comes "paid parking." At its heart, it's just another grasping at any available means to make it more difficult and unpleasant for mainlanders to visit and enjoy our island.
I can hear the howls "but parking is overflowing, with no end in sight!" Parking cannot overflow so long as our current laws are enforced, as there are only so many parking spaces available.
When those are full, anyone parking in the street will be properly dealt with by the police, who are already doing an excellent job in that regard.
Over the years, we have become known as a quiet, laid-back, live and let live community. Meeting visitors at the gates armed with pitchforks is counterintuitive to our core values.
As a commissioner said not too long ago "why can't we just be nice ?"
Remember, the Constitution was written to limit the powers of government, not the people.