CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Brevard County’s efforts to deter big crowds on beaches amid the coronavirus pandemic and warnings to avoid large crowds seemed to be working Sunday.
Cocoa Beach's city commissioners said attendance is "substantially down" since public parking closures and an alcohol ban both went into effect this week.
However, as a consequence of closed parking lots, some drivers are finding unique ways to park their cars.
In Cape Canaveral, drivers that could have previously parked in the Arthur Avenue beach access lot were parked in the street and also in a private vacant lot.
[Coronavirus in Florida: More than 1,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases | Flagler County beaches, boardwalk closing due to COVID-19 pandemic]
A block away near another beach access, Brevard resident Dave Farrow narrowly avoided getting a ticket where he parked.
Farrow said a sheriff's deputy told him his car was next.
The deputy told Farrow the $35 tickets were for “blocking county property.”
“You better find a residential area, a friend, a family member," Farrow said. “Park in their driveway or you will be ticketed.”
The French family from Minnesota took the parking risk.
After the Tampa Bay beaches closed, Jay French drove everyone across the state to Cape Canaveral.
"We parked on the side of the road here and hopefully that'll be OK and we don't get towed or anything," French said.
Neighbor Virginia Scott believes the enforcement is not strong enough.
"There should be a patrol person here or a tow truck," she said.
Bobby Bronchick and Abby Jackson also parked at their own risk and they were also drinking on the beach at the Arthur Avenue access because unlike in Cocoa Beach there is not a temporary alcohol ban in Cape Canaveral.
“It’s just nice that there’s somewhere else we can go to hang out and just have a few drinks, respectfully,” Bronchick said.
Scott, a Cape Canaveral neighborhood resident, said it was a shame that people are parking on the grass that belongs to someone else and not the city government.
On the other hand, after narrowly avoiding a ticket, Farrow said he thinks authorities should not be as tough on parking enforcement.
"I think they should be concentrating more on the groups of people with the virus, not where people are parking," he said.
Leaders have said that the beaches are still open in consideration of local businesses during this difficult time.