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Two Sanibel beaches to open in February; limited parking passes go on sale

The News-Press (Fort Myers) 1/20/2023 Amy Bennett Williams, Fort Myers News-Press
Visitors to Lighthouse Beach on Sanibel look for shells on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2021. © Amanda Inscore/The News-Press - USA Today Network-Florida Visitors to Lighthouse Beach on Sanibel look for shells on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2021.

Sanibel is taking another (sandy) step toward post-Ian normalcy: It's selling beach parking passes again.

They're limited and they may only work at two beaches initially, but for an island whose shoreline helps define its identity, it feels like a big deal.

As of Thursday morning, parking permits "FOR SANIBEL RESIDENTS AND SANIBEL PROPERTY OWNERS ONLY will be available for purchase," the city announced, using all-caps to emphasize that this does not include the public – yet.

Everyone else will have to wait until February, the same month Tarpon Bay Beach and the Blind Pass access area are slated to reopen, City Manager Dana Souza said at this week's Sanibel City Council meeting.

More:Where's the mail? Where's the aid? Sanibel's recovery marathon grinds on

More:After Ian, some are done with Florida, some slog on while some are back to normal

Hurricane Ian devastated the barrier island's coast: cutting deep new channels, washing away huge swaths of shoreline and depositing dangerous debris.

Though crews have been clearing, raking and reshaping, work remains to be done, Souza said. “Some very large debris at water’s edge that gets uncovered at low tide" still has to be hauled off, and unsafe areas need to be fenced off.

"We’ve had washouts and scouring – some of them deep – and we want to be sure people don’t accidentally wander into those locations,” he said.

Permits for those who don't live or own property on the island go on sale Jan. 31.

Off-islanders are eager to get back to the island's famed beaches as well, John Lai, CEO of the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce told The News-Press earlier this month. "The beauty is still there (and) that drive over the causeway, as different as it is, is still very relaxing and therapeutic," he said, though he'd emphasize the experience will be different from years past, with recovery still very much in progress.

Annual fees range from $14 for full-time residents to $399 for non-property owning non-residents.

Residents and property owners can verify their status with:

• a driver’s license with a Sanibel address

• valid government-issued photo identification with a Sanibel address

• a Lee County voter registration card with a Sanibel address

• a tax bill with a Sanibel homestead exemption

• a Sanibel property tax bill

• a notarized declaration of domicile on Sanibel

The passes are vehicle-specific. For each vehicle to be parked, its registration of lease agreement must be presented when buying the permit.

For more information, call the Sanibel Recreation Center at (239) 472-0345 or visit

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Two Sanibel beaches to open in February; limited parking passes go on sale

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