At least 10 Key Largo residents unleashed a barrage of complaints at the June 16 Monroe County BOCC meeting about the day-tripper congestion problem in their neighborhood by Sunset Point Park 2 at MM 95. In response, the board asked county staff to research law enforcement solutions for no-parking signs for the upcoming holiday weekend, and the board decided that action will be taken on this problem at a special BOCC meeting on Monday, June 21 at 10 a.m. at the Marathon Government Center.

“Our neighborhood is under siege, and we are begging you for help,” said resident Tamra Green, who lives close to the park. “It’s the death of a community. We can’t use our own neighborhood any more. I only use my yard.”

Other residents spoke in support of Commissioner Mike Forster’s presentation in front of the Board of County Commissioners about Sunset Point Park 2, and they even applauded when he finished the presentation. Forster showed video and slides detailing the problem. 

Sunset Point Park 2 has a tiny pocket beach for public use on the open water at the end of Bay Drive in a residential neighborhood. The park is 60 feet wide and extends about 200 feet past the paved road to a sandy beach at the water’s edge. The area is being suggested by hotels as a destination for guests and is used recreationally by day-trippers who pitch tents, use grills and bring coolers of alcohol. Only six parking spaces are provided at the edge of the park, but visitors cram their cars throughout Bay Drive and neighboring streets.

Residents in the neighborhood say that at times the street next to the Sunset Point Park 2 beach in Key Largo at MM 95 is so crowded with tourists’ vehicles that their own cars can’t get through, much less emergency vehicles. MONROE COUNTY/Contributed

The speakers at the BOCC meeting complained that they can’t get down the street to their houses on a busy weekend, and they are concerned that emergency vehicles also won’t be able to get through. Residents have resorted to putting out their own “No Parking” and “Slow Down” signs. 

“I purchased this property for beach access. We can’t do that any more,” said resident Lucy Given. “Neighbors have witnessed people using their yards as toilets and trespassing by day-trippers to dump trash.”

Per the county, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has responded to numerous complaints over the years.

Neighbor Richard Brindle said he has counted at least 75 people on the little beach on a typical weekend, and he asked if the county could close the park on the Fourth of July.

The residents neighboring the Sunset Point Park 2 beach have resorted to putting out their own signs to control the traffic. MONROE COUNTY/Contributed

Other suggested solutions included installing no-parking signs and speed bumps, and possibly leasing the beach to the Sunset Point community association to prevent access to the public.

Speaker Sue Heim was opposed to that solution, because it would prevent other local taxpayers from using the beach. “I don’t think giving it to an entitled group of people is a justification for me not using it,” she said.

Deborah Owens said her neighborhood “now resembles Disney World” and that the visitors engage in verbal altercations with residents. She suggested that the county divert day-trippers to Rowell’s Waterfront Park by developing it and charging fees for visitors in order to recover the cost of the development.

In the end, after much discussion among the commissioners, county attorney Bob Shillinger said he would ask staff to draft a resolution for no-parking zones for the entire neighborhood, then research what it would take for off-duty personnel to enforce the no-parking rules for Fourth of July weekend. Then the county commissioners will take action at a special meeting on Monday, June 21. 

Upon hearing that the commissioners would take action on Monday, the Sunset Point Park neighbors applauded once again.

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Charlotte Twine fled her New York City corporate publishing life and happily moved to the Keys six years ago. She has written for Travel + Leisure, Allure, and Offshore magazines;; and the Florida Keys Free Press. She loves her two elderly Pomeranians, writing stories that uplift and inspire, making children laugh, the color pink, tattoos, Johnny Cash, and her husband. Though not necessarily in that order.