Special events banned during peak season at St. Armands Circle

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SARASOTA, Fla.- St. Armands Circle is a prime location for events on the Suncoast, bringing more traffic to the already congested area; and with peak tourist season almost here, St. Armands is working with the city to control permits for special events.

It's one of the go-to spots in Sarasota. On almost any day of the week, St. Armands Circle is full of locals and visitors enjoying a bite to eat or shopping in the unique boutiques; but because of it's popularity, there is always traffic and a shortage of parking. With peak season approaching, the city is working on controlling that traffic.

“During season, in St. Armands, we need to have a ban on special events other than those that have already been permitted,” says Susan Chapman, City Commissioner for the city of Sarasota.

Circle Park is home to many popular events on the Suncoast, but that has come at a cost to St. Armands' merchants and residents. On Monday, the Sarasota City Commission, placed a temporary ban on special events in St. Armands. The ban will apply to the peak season, starting in February and ending in April.

“The merchants at St. Armands, plus the residents, said this is an issue with regard to parking, with regard to business,” says Chapman.

The St. Armands Residents' Association says the traffic goes through the neighborhoods and causes double parking.

It's to protect the residents. It's to protect the merchants, but also the visitors 'cause if you can't get here, then there's no reason, you know, why are you going to have it,” says Jay Sparr, President of St. Armands Residents' Association.

“It's a great place to shop and a great place to be, but I think it would limit my coming here if they had big events when parking is so difficult,” says Carol Saggau, a Bradenton resident shopping on St. Armands Circle.

Merchants say the events bring hundreds of people, but not necessarily buyers. The apparel store, Dreamweaver Collection, believes the ban will most likely be positive.

“We have private parking for customers, and they can't even get to our private parking during these big events,” says Nanci Rand, the sales manager for Dreamweaver.

But other stores, like People's Pottery, don't see a need for the ban.

“It gets foot traffic in the store, and even if they're not shopping that day there's always the potential for them to come,” says Barbara Pugliese, manager for People's Pottery.

City commissioners say they are in the process of drafting an official ordinance, outlining the seasonal ban.