Commercial boaters under scrutiny for overcrowding at boat parks

Collier County leaders are putting the blame on commercial boaters for overcrowding at boat parks. Now, they are looking for a solution that those commercial boaters say could hurt their livelihood.

If commercial boaters lose access to the water, if they’re suddenly kept from using public boat ramps, they’re out of business. They say they’re not the problem. That it’s tourists from the East Coast who are to blame.

Carlos Escarra fears his fresh start as the owner of a shelling tour business is about to end.

“Starting January first, I’m out of business,” Escarra said.

Escarra spoke in front of the parks and recreation advisory board. He was one of a few dozen business owners at the Wednesday afternoon meeting.

The advisory board is considering a slew of options to control overcrowded parking like this at public boat ramps.

That includes shutting down commercial customer or shuttle parking at all public boat ramps, limiting commercial permits to 75 a year.

It also includes shutting down commercial operations completely at Caxambus Park to get into compliance with City of Marco Island regulations.

Commercial means Jet Ski, kayak and paddle board rentals, eco tours and fishing guides.

“I’m afraid that it’s going to cost me my livelihood and not just mine, but everybody else,” Escarra said. “Everybody else here that runs tours and fishing guides.”

Glenn Livesey also spoke Wednesday on behalf of Paddle Marco.

“Everybody has families and mortgages you can’t do this work out a solution with the city,” Livesey said. “It’s going to kill off business. It’s going to cause serious problems with tourism, and it’s just going to reduce tax revenue it’s a lose-lose.”

The final decision on these changes rests with Collier County Board of County Commissioners.

Proposed regulations to meet objectives

  • No commercial customer parking or commercial shuttle parking at County boat ramp parks
    Commercial use only allowed at County boat ramp parks on non-holidays M-F
  • Limit of 1 commercial launch permit per company
  • Limit commercial launch permits to Collier County companies only
  • Limit total commercial launch permits issued to 75 annually
  • Limit of 2 launches/landings per day per commercial permit
  • Limit of 4 jet skis per trailer
  • Limit of 6 passengers per charter vessel
  • Trailer and tow vehicle must fit within a designated parking space
  • No staging of equipment within County boat ramp parks
  • No use of County park address on website or promotional materials
  • No re-fueling in boat parks except from permitted County fuel dispensers
  • Set time limit for loading/unloading at docks (10-15 minutes)
  • Set time limit for launching/retrieving vessels at ramp (10-15 minutes)
Reporter:Rachel Cox-Rosen
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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