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SPI Residents Debate on Stricter Spring Break Regulations

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SOUTH PADRE ISLAND – Springtime is one of the busiest times of year for businesses on South Padre Island, yet spring break is dividing residents. Some welcome the large crowds while others want regulations to limit noise and even performances.

South Padre Island is a well-known spring break attraction for college students from across the nation and even Mexico. It means larger crowds and lots of cash registers ringing up profits.

Businesses on the Island pulled in $30 million during March of last year.

Kimberly Dollar, executive director of “POWC,” or Property Owners Who Care, on the Island, said she doesn’t want spring break to be done away with or for college students to stop visiting. She asked the city council for stricter regulations on spring break events.

“Regulations that would ensure that the activities that happen during spring break are civil. They’re respectful, they are safe, they are in the best interest of the entire city of South Padre,” she said.

Other citizens told the city council that they want regulations on the noise levels, the size of crowds, the profanity – even the types of acts hired to perform.

Clayton’s Beach Bar and Grill owner Clayton Brashear said the request couldn’t have come at a worse time.

“So for people to come and say, ‘Oh we need to regulate it right now,’ when we are all trying to get ready for spring break – that’s not right,” he said.

Brashear added the Island is a tourist destination and there’s a business market for everyone.

“We want people to come down here and enjoy it. Spring break is just two, three weeks, and then summer time comes. We want all the families to come, the Winter Texans have been at Clayton’s drinking dollar beer,” he said.

The POWC wants a family-style atmosphere all year round. Most Island people indicated they don’t want stricter guidelines for spring break events.

Mayor Barry Patel said the division in his tourist town is part of the growing pains that go along with becoming a more popular destination.

“We make ourselves very attractive. We’re investing a lot of money, things that infrastructure that’s going on in SPI. Well the response to that is more people will come down,” he said.

More regulations on parking, crowd control, sanitation and security may be needed to control the crowds. He insisted the Island isn’t trying to push anyone away.

“South Padre Island has always had a multitude of cultures and it’s like a melting pot here,” Patel said.

March is the fourth largest grossing month for the Island. Only the summer months bring in more.

For this spring break, the city council won’t act on any regulations. Even so, some business owners said having the issue come up now sends the wrong message to tourists planning to visit SPI in the coming weeks.

The city council will meet with the community again on March 29.

SPI Taxable Sales from Last March:

- Restaurants raked in 36% of the sales tax

- "Other" industries brought in 14%

- Gift clothing and souvenirs was at 12%

- Utilities 11%

- Gas stations 8%

- Beer, wine and liquor sales 6%

- Grocery stores & amusement stores tied at 4% each

- Other types of hotels 3%

- Drinking places at 2%

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