Carolina Beach Town Council Considers Raising Parking Rates

Carolina Beach Town Council Considers Raising Parking Rates

Carolina Beach Town Council Considers Raising Parking Rates Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 04 March 2020 15:02

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council discussed increasing parking rates during their February 25th, meeting. A proposal would increase hourly rates in Town owned pay-parking lots from $2.50 and hour to $5 an hour and from $17 per day to $20 per day. That's based on paid lots operated by other property owners that charged the same rates in 2019 and were well utilized by people parking to visit the beach or local establishments.

The Town currently has 19 paid parking lots that charge a fee for parking from April to October from 8am to 10pm. During the off-season parking is free at lots and on-street metered spaces. The proposal would expand the season in 2020 to April through November and in 2021, from March to November. Some lots such as the one at the Carolina Beach Lake would be restricted to two-hour parking. Rates for parking meters would be increased to from $2.50 to $3.00 per hour to discourage people from parking in those spaces in front of businesses to visit the beach rather than parking in long-term spaces in the paid parking lots.
Asistant Town Manager Ed Parvin explained there are prime lots in areas of town that are located close to the beach and, "We are at April through October 8am to 10 pm is when we run our parking program at $2.50 per hour and $17 per day. We have seen quite a few private lots pop up over the last couple of years and they have been sucessful at getting more and more lots and there's a lot of ability to do that because they are charging more and people are actually paying that rate at $5 per hour and $20 per day. The ambassadors that we have with Lanier have done a great job... and we are not going out and if somebody is late, they are getting towed in those lots, where we're not" towing in the same manner.

Parvin explained staff is looking at adopting the increases prior to April 1st, the start of the parking season and, "We could start with our April parking season if we did a $5 and hour, $20 a day and we would absorb the transaction fees. That would be for all the lots except for these four that we would keep at a lower rate. We were trying to identify lots that were not as agressive and as close to the beach. The Week's lot being the one on the west side of the marina so it's not used as much, so we could do a lower rate. The Harbor Masters lot is in a ey good location... but it is off a little bit from our downtown and it's not ocean front."

The lots that would not see an increase would be the Week's Lot on the west side of the Town's marina on Canal Drive, the lot at 1708  Canal Drive,the Harbor Masters Lot on Canal Drive just north of the Marina at the lot in front of Hang Ten Grill on South Lake Park Blvd.

The purpose is to focus rate increases on lots that see the most demand from people wishing to park and visit the beach front or the downtown area. The lots with the highest visitor count.

Councilman Lynn Barbee expressed concern about the two-hour limit in the downtown area for events such as weekly fireworks in the summer season.

He explained, "I'm thinking about the fireworks. If you go into the lot by the community center... people come to go to the fireworks.Two hours is kind tight in the evenings." He explained, "It's two-hours from 8 to 6... I just hear that a lot from people. I hear that a lot from people. They try to go to the fireworks or any of the other week night events and they can't, because the music starts at 7pm and the fireworks are at 9pm. You are pinched in there."

Barbee explained, "I understand the beach goerers issue of hogging those lots up, I understand that, but then you know you've got residents who go there. The two hours applies to everybody so you've got residents trying to get up there to see the fireworks. They go up at six, they are going to get a bite to eat. Which we like, right, and they are spending money downtown, and then they go listen to music and then fireworks are at 9pm and then they are over their" parking limit for those events.

Mayor Leann Pierce said she's not a "big fan" of the two-hour time limits on parking but, "I know why we did it, to turnover for the businesses down there, but I'm not a big fan of it personally."

Parvin explianed, "We could look at the two-hour max as well. We were thinking about making that a three dollar an hour fee. We want to  do an increase because we are looking five dollars for the lots and $2.50 for a few of them. But a three dollar fee matches what Wrightsville Beach has."

Pierce said, "We can't go over hat they're charging. And I think they are going up this year."

Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said, "Sure we could."

Parvin said in previous years the Town hasn't enforced "booting" vehicles with three or more unpaid parking tickets but the Town could begin stepping up enforcement actions. However, those situations are not that common. A "boot" is a device locked to a vehicle tire that prevents the owner from driving away without first paying the outstanding parking tickets. The other option is to tow the vehilce at which point the owner must pay the outstanding ticket fines and pay the towing company to release the vehicle.

The Council did not officially vote on any recommendations discussed during the February meeting.

Based on the discussion, Parvin will bring the issue back to Council at their March 10th, meeting.

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