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City of Treasure Island v. Tahitian Treasure Island, LLC

Florida Court of Appeals, Second District

October 27, 2017

CITY OF TREASURE ISLAND, a municipality within Pinellas County, Florida, Appellant,
TAHITIAN TREASURE ISLAND, LLC, a Florida limited liability company; PAGE TERRACE MOTEL, INC., a Florida corporation; CAIDAN ENTERPRISES, LLC, a Florida limited liability company; DAVID KING; ARTHUR CZYSZCZON; and KEVIN McINERNEY, Appellees.


         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Pinellas County; Pamela A.M. Campbell and Jack Day, Judges.

          Kevin S. Hennessey and Jennifer R. Cowan of Lewis, Longman, & Walker, P.A., Bradenton, for Appellant.

          Courtney L. Fernald and Leonard S. Englander of Englander Fischer, St. Petersburg, and Martha Collins of Collins Law Group, Tampa, for Appellees.

          SALARIO, JUDGE.

         The City of Treasure Island appeals from a final summary judgment in favor of Tahitian Treasure Island, LLC; Page Terrace Motel, Inc.; Caidan Enterprises, LLC; David King; Arthur Czyszczon; and Kevin McInerney (collectively, the Hoteliers). The dispute centers on claims by the Hoteliers that the City allows and hosts driving and parking on Treasure Island Beach in connection with festivals and public events in violation of section 161.58(2), Florida Statutes (2014), which prohibits "[v]ehicular traffic" on "coastal beaches" in Florida. The trial court agreed with the Hoteliers, declared that the "City's activities of hosting and allowing vehicular parking and driving on Treasure Island Beach" violate section 161.58(2), and permanently enjoined the City from hosting or allowing any parking and driving on Treasure Island Beach.

         As we explain below, we find no error in the trial court's decision that the manner in which the City hosts public parking at the events that are the subject of the Hoteliers' complaint involves vehicular traffic on a coastal beach and is therefore prohibited by section 161.58(2). However, the trial court also declared illegal and enjoined other conduct that either does not constitute vehicular traffic (e.g., the movement of vehicles across the beach for purposes of event set-up) or is outside the scope of the Hoteliers' complaint and the summary judgment record. That was error. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings.

         The Parties, The Dispute, And The Summary Judgment

         The City is a beach community located on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. The Hoteliers are the owners of three beachfront hotels in the City. Their properties are located upland of the central beach area of Treasure Island Beach. The area is central because it is located in the middle of Treasure Island and is beach because it fronts the shoreline along the Gulf. The central beach area is uncommonly wide for a Gulf Beach, stretching 800 to 900 feet from the water's edge to a City-owned, paved walkway that meanders around dunes at the landward side of the beach.

         The City uses a large, sandy expanse in the middle of the central beach area to host several civic events each year, either on its own or by allowing certain organizations to do so. They range from carnivals to music festivals to car and truck shows to fireworks displays. These events often involve the construction of temporary structures-e.g., a tent, a carnival ride, or a stage-that are removed when the event has ended. The events have happened as often as thirty times a year.

         To accommodate the attendees, the City makes temporary public parking areas available for the events. These public parking areas are located on a sandy region of the beach. The public can access them by driving along sandy, unpaved access paths that run from a paved lot near the walkway between the dunes, onto the beach, and into the temporary lots. The City collects a fee for the use of the beach parking areas. The number of cars taking advantage of the City-hosted beach parking varies from event to event, but on our record, it appears to have involved as many as 130 cars in the beach parking areas at past events.

         In addition to public parking, the City also allows vehicles performing functions related to the events it hosts to drive and park on the beach. A vendor selling food and drink might drive a food truck onto the beach and park it there for that purpose. Similarly, a truck hauling a carnival attraction might drive over the beach and then park there for purposes of placing the attraction for the event and later removing the attraction after the event has ended. This activity is authorized by the City's ordinance that prohibits parking and driving on the beach, subject to certain exceptions, which include "participants and support staff for set-up and break-down of special events." See Treasure Island, Fla., Code of Ordinances of the City of Treasure Island, Fla. ch. 58, art. II, § 58.38(4) (1985).

         Believing that driving and parking on the beach in connection with these events violates state law-including section 161.58(2)'s prohibition of vehicular traffic on coastal beaches-the Hoteliers sued the City in circuit court. Their amended complaint asserted three counts: Count I sought an injunction to prohibit the driving and parking on the beach and to require the City to strike that provision of its ordinance allowing it; Count II sought a judgment declaring that the driving and parking on the beach violates section 161.58(2); and Count III sought a judgment declaring that the City had violated a decree in earlier, related litigation between the City and the Treasure Island Motel Association.

         The issues the City raises on appeal were decided on multiple motions for summary judgment filed by both the plaintiffs and the defendant. That led to some convoluted proceedings, but the procedural play-by-play is not relevant to the issues we decide. The bottom line is that the Hoteliers voluntarily dismissed Count III, and the parties proceeded to a decision on Counts I and II based on undisputed facts. The Hoteliers argued that the beach parking and driving involved in the civic events on Treasure Island Beach violate section 161.58(2) because (1) the events occur on coastal beaches within the meaning of the statute and (2) the movement and parking at those events constitutes vehicular traffic that is prohibited within the meaning of the statute. The City disputed both points, arguing that (1) the portion of Treasure Island Beach on which its events are held is not a "coastal beach" under section 161.58 because it is not technically a "beach" as that term is defined within chapter 161 and that even if it is a coastal beach, (2) the statute's term "[v]ehicular traffic" contemplates the movement of vehicles as though it were occurring along a public street or highway and is limited to "Daytona Beach-style driving, " a characterization the City says cannot be applied to the movement and parking of vehicles at the events that are the subject of the Hoteliers' complaint.

         The trial court denied the City's motions for summary judgment and granted the Hoteliers' motions. It entered a judgment that declared "that the City's activities of hosting and allowing vehicular parking and driving on Treasure Island Beach are in violation of Fla. Stat. § 161.58" and that the City Ordinance "is null and void to the extent that it conflicts with Fla. Stat. § 161.58 and purports to allow vehicular parking and driving on Treasure Island Beach." Based on its summary judgment determination that the City's activities violate section 161.58, the trial court's judgment further permanently enjoined the City "from hosting or allowing vehicular parking and driving on Treasure Island Beach." The City timely appealed.

         The Issues On Appeal

         There is one significant argument that the City raised in the trial court that it has not raised on appeal-that the events at issue do not occur on a "coastal beach" within the meaning of section 161.58(2). Accordingly, we assume for purposes of this opinion that they do occur on a coastal beach and express no judgment on that legal question. The City does, however, argue that the driving and parking of vehicles in connection with the subject events do not constitute "[v]ehicular traffic" as used in the statute and, further, that the relief the trial court ordered is overbroad. We address those issues below.[1]

         Beach And Shore Regulation And The Activities The City Hosts

         Understanding the City's arguments requires understanding the statutory context in which section 161.58 resides-chapter 161, which governs beach and shore preservation-and how the activities involved in this case relate to it. Two parts of chapter 161 are implicated here: part I governs construction and other activity seaward of a coastal construction control line, and part III adds protections for parts of coastal areas deemed especially sensitive.

         Coastal construction control line permitting under part I.

         First adopted in 1965, part I-which, taken together with part II, is called the Dennis L. Jones Beach and Shore Preservation Act-limits construction and physical activity in coastal areas, regulates how that construction and activity can occur, and provides enforcement mechanisms for violations. In the 1970s, the legislature added provisions to part I to regulate construction seaward of a "coastal construction control line" to be established by the Department of Environmental Protection. See generally ยง 161.053, Fla. Stat. (1971). The legislature's ...

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