Editorial: New Parking Rates And Hours Begin July 1st

By / Editorials / الثلاثاء, 26 حزيران/يونيو 2018 16:09

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

Paid parking in Carolina Beach will get even more expensive starting July 1st.

The Town Council approved the 2018-2019 fiscal budget during their June 12th, meeting. In addition to raising water, sewer and stormwater rates by 11.5% and raising parking and Freeman Park rates, golf cart permit fees and other fees, the Council approved expanding the hours for parking enforcement.

The Council also voted to increase the hourly rate from $2.00 to $2.50 for metered spaces and parking lots, increased annual resident parking permits from $10 to $20, and the daily rate at Town parking lots from $10 to $17 per day.

Non-resident annual parking decals will increase from $75 to $150.

Parking tickets will increase from $15 to $30 and if not paid after 15 days, the penalty increases to $60.

Golf cart permits will increase for residents from $10 a year to $20, and for non-resident cart permits, the fee will increase from $75 to $100 per year.

Those and other fee increases will bring in a total of $343,545.00 in additional revenue to balance the budget.

Council also voted to increase rates at Freeman Park for four-wheel drive access to the beach beyond the end of Canal Drive.

An annual pass will increase from $150 to $200. Daily passes will increase from $30 to $40. Holiday passes will increase from $50 per day to $60 per day for holiday weekends such as July 4th. Camping passes will increase from $20 per day to $30.

The Freeman Park Early Bird Special will increase from $75 for an annual pass to $150. Those passes are available only in person at Town Hall and other locations in Town during a portion of December and serves as a way for the Town to offer a discount to residents that can't otherwise be offered by law. Those Early Bird passes can't be purchased online or by mail. All of the Freeman Park increases will generate an estimated $597,800.00 additional revenue.

Expanded Enforcement Hours:

Currently parking enforcement is from 8am to 7pm. The Council approved expanding enforcement to 10pm. That's not a problem for people parking in off-street Town-owned parking lots, but it's an issue for people parking at on-street metered spaces. Expanding from 7pm to 10pm in the summer will cause problems for people that show up for Thursday night fireworks at the Boardwalk and decide to visit a local restaurant for dinner first, and then go to the gazebo at 6pm or 6:30 for the live entertainment and then enjoy the area until the fireworks start at 9pm. That's longer than the two-hour time limit, per block, per day at metered spaces.

It's important to note that residents can purchase an annual parking permit and park for free in metered parking spaces but that doesn't relieve those permit holders from obeying the two-hour per block, per day, regulation. If they are at the Boardwalk and park at a metered parking space at 6pm, they have to go back at 8pm (prior to the fireworks) and move their vehicle to another space on another block.

In the summer, that's frustrating because of the additional demand on available metered parking spaces and lots.

Expanding the hours of enforcement combined with the two-hour per day, per block rule, either reduces the time a visitor can spend at the Boardwalk visiting local businesses, or it adds a level of frustration to those who have to move their vehicles to another block. Not to mention the added frustration of getting a ticket.

The proposal to expand parking enforcement hours focuses on generating more revenue for the Town at around $35,000 each month. Yet, it will serve as a deciding factor for residents and visitors alike in terms of inconvenience.  The Town has long encouraged County residents and tourists to come to Carolina Beach for the free fireworks and entertainment in order to attract more patrons to the Boardwalk. Do we really need to squeeze another two hours of coins from people and risk an increase in parking tickets?

To recap, right now you can park for free after 7pm at on-street metered parking spaces. After 7pm enforcement has ended, so the two-hour per block, per day rule isn't an issue. Now that parking enforcement will be expanded to 10pm, it will reduce visitors time at the Boardwalk enjoying dinner, arcades, Britt's Donuts, live entertainment and a an excellent fireworks display on Thursdays.

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