The Discussion of Year-Round Parking Continues

The Discussion of Year-Round Parking Continues

The Discussion of Year-Round Parking Continues Featured

By / Local News / Thursday, 13 January 2022 01:02

Last week I sat in on one of several parking roundtables that had been organized by each councilperson for small group discussions. Mayor Lynn Barbee, Town Manager Bruce Oakley and Assistant Town Manager Ed Parvin were on hand at Councilwoman Deb LeCompte’s meeting to share why the new parking decisions were made, why the new company was chosen and answered any questions.

The argument is the Town of Carolina Beach can not be competitive in managing parking for leased lots if they do not charge year round. That private parking management companies rather then the town, would be more attractive to landowners when leasing their lots. If taxpayers didn’t want to see additional increases, the Town needed generate more revenue.  However what stuck out to me in the presentation is that roughly 8,000 residential, business, non-resident and weekly passes were sold last year for 800 town-managed spots. This gave the private sector that does not recognize Town Permits the chance to profit more because they do not accept town passes and can charge the highest rate. Mr. Jeff Reitzel who owns the Canal Parking Lot brought this up in an email to town staff stating,  “how does the city calculate separately the revenue generated by my loss when the adjoining City’s own lots are being rented? Also, the city sells yearly passes and many of locals frequent Stoked and the Marina so the income would be significantly reduced as compared to a parking lot more likely to be used by visitors.” This means 1. PIVOT and the Town have not secured leases on all their lots there for the projection of income is not accurate. 2. Private property owners know leasing through the town with their “Town Passes” affects their income tremendously.

After much discussion and many of the guest in attendance disagreeing with year round parking Mayor Barbee added in being out in the community the people he spoke with were 80/20 for year round parking, the guests quickly asked who he had spoken with adding the majority of people they had talked to were 80/20 against the year round changes.

We reached out to those in attendance for comment about how they felt the meeting went and here are the responses we received. “It was enlightening, but at the same time disappointing.  I think attendees had hoped the outcome would be a sense that Council consider putting the brakes on the situation until more info was gathered, particularly from the businesses regarding year round and employee parking. I’m not sure that was the case.” –Cindy Dunn.

“As an uninvited observer, I didn’t actively participate in the meeting. However, I did witness the Mayor spend an hour trying to justify the last Council’s decision to approve the new parking policy, including the move to approve year-round parking. From my seat, it wasn’t a good meeting for the Mayor. While the group at large expressed some appreciation for the format of the meeting, they also expressed frustration with the decision-making process. I think all the participants agreed these types of meetings should happen prior to Council voting on important topics. Keep in mind this was supposed to be a roundtable with discussion from a select group of participants, but that didn’t really materialize. A few sharp comments and questions were justifiably fired at the Mayor about the decision for the Town to move to year round parking, something that has already become a public relations nightmare for Carolina Beach. More than a handful of us at this meeting were also at the chamber workshop in November, when the decision was made to approve the 2022 parking policy. I don’t believe any of the participants at this meeting are in favor of the new policy. For the record, I’m not in favor of year-round parking. With input from stakeholders, we can do better as a town that relies on neighboring communities to support our businesses in the offseason. Charging for parking November – February will result in a minimal financial gain for the hassle it’s going to put everyone through. Transparency has run amuck in this case.” – Matt Dunn.

“I feel it was somewhat productive and very informative. I feel that I really do understand the parking lot situation and what they are doing where that is concerned. However I really hope they reconsider charging for spots on the street in winter and keep them free. I also like the idea of quick pickup spots in all year if that is even being considered. Also would support the Airbnb idea for parking, just don’t understand then logistics of implementation.” –Karen Graybush.

"A round table is a table which has no "head" and no "sides", and therefore no one person sitting at it is given a privileged position and all are treated as equals." - 

Wow! The meeting was anything but a "round table" meeting. It was frustrating and at times shocking.  Elected officials are to represent all constituents, not just the ones that agree with them.  We were even told that, "I can fill this room with people who will tell you all that you're crazy." I am very disappointed in the lack of transparency and respect.” –Melanie Boswell.

In an email to Councilwoman Deb LeCompte, Noel Stevens stated, “I really feel everyone is missing the mark on what people are upset about for parking. Unfortunately we had very little discussion of the actual impact of meter parking which I feel is more what people are upset about versus the lots.”

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