We've survived another spring break, thanks in large part to the heroic efforts by the Walton County Sheriff's Office. However, there's precious little time to relax. Some strategic changes are needed to discourage the hordes of unruly spring breakers from again heading our way in 2014.
Here are a few suggestions to help preserve peace and order in our neighborhoods, roadways and beaches, while making life difficult for spring break celebrants.
• Underage drinkers should not only be slapped with the usual fine, but also a 30-day jail sentence. The jail time would be suspended on condition the offender agrees not to set foot in Walton for at least 12 months.
• There should be an aggressive tow away program for parked vehicles not in designated spaces. This should be enforced along 30A and Scenic Gulf Highway, focusing on beach accesses and nighttime entertainment venues.
• Owners renting houses or condos for periods less than 30 days should be required to register with the county. The minimum age for signing a rental agreement should be set at 30.
• Any rental accommodation where police are called to clear a disorderly gathering where underage drinking is happening, should be padlocked for the duration of that year's tourist season, or until the owner posts a hefty bond — say $10,000.
• Rental agencies found renting to under-aged renters, ignoring occupancy limitations, or where police response is needed, should be fined and receive license suspensions.
Common sense measures like these should get the attention of spring break celebrants, and help them conclude that PCB would be a lot more fun.
The recent Sun column by Rick Thomason about going after tourists with more attractive demographics was right on the money. It should be required reading for our new TDC director. It should be taped to his office door.
The TDC's current "all-comers" marketing plan is wrong headed. If you market to a schlocky crowd, including spring breakers, what you get are overcrowded roads, trashy beaches and rowdiness. Do we really want to be known as PCB west?
A major rental agency office in Miramar Beach had "Welcome Spring Breakers" on its large sign fronting 98. Is that what we want in South Walton?