Ten days into turtle nesting season, and weeks after an annual education process leading up to turtle season, the town has opened 22 cases on properties they say are in violation of the turtle nesting ordinance. This is one of many pictures taken Sunday night.
The lighting violations stretch from one end of Estero Boulevard to the other. They include condo buildings, restaurants, homes and businesses.
The inspections began last week. Turtle season runs from May 1st through the end of October. It doesn’t appear any fines were issued by the town as of yet, all of the properties were given a warning and remain under investigation. It looks as if the town is giving each property a chance to remedy their lighting issues with re-inspections to be done this week and next week.
It’s more than just the lights the turtles and the town staff have to contend with.
This picture below was sent to us on Sunday. It’s a jet ski operation outside the Wyndham hotel. It included 13 jet skis (according to town code, each vendor is licensed to operate 8 jet skis), 3 trailers, a stack of chairs and boxes all left out overnight, according to the photo taker.
Volunteers from Turtle Time check the beach every night and every morning. They are scanning for debris, trash, holes in the sand and non-compliant lighting. All the things that can disorient turtles. They send what they find to the town and it’s up to the town to enforce the code.
The code requires all jet skis and related equipment be removed from the beach (or back behind a dune) during turtle season. The equipment is not to be placed on the sand until Turtle Time completes its morning inspection, which they try to complete for the vendors by 7AM to 7:30AM, so the businesses can start setting up as early as possible.
Last month, Fort Myers Beach Community Services Administrator Daphne Saunders told the town council that the town has not been enforcing the jet ski and parasail beach ordinance at all. She added, “there are a lot of violations that are happening right now.”
Saunders said she didn’t even know if the vendors were following the rule on the number of jet skis permitted under the ordinance. “I’ve never gone out on the beach and said 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8.”
Since then, the town council voted to scrap the jet ski and parasail ordinance and instructed the town manager and town attorney to write a new one. The manager and attorney met last week to start that process and say they plan to hold a workshop session soon and invite the vendors.
The town council and the Marine Resources Task Force committee have asked the town staff to step up enforcement and issue fines for violating the town’s turtle nesting ordinance.
This is a photo of a home on Estero Boulevard on Sunday night.