Carolina Beach Council Reverses Decision To Extend Parking Enforcement Hours; Rates Will Still Increase
- Published on Sunday, 08 April 2012 01:43
- Written by Super User
By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council didn't ask the community the first time around, and now after hearing some feedback on the street, they reversed a decision to extend hours of parking enforcement at their March 30, meeting.
Parking enforcement will now continue to cease at 7PM instead of being extended to 9PM throughout Town as previously approved in March by the Council when also voting to raise parking rates. The rate increase will continue as planned.
It wasn't listed on the agenda for the Council's March 13, meeting, but they unanimously voted to raise parking rates and extend hours of enforcement.
The agenda listed a presentation by the Town's Parking Enforcement Contractor, Lanier Parking Solutions, regarding the upcoming season. Following that presentation, the Council voted to increase the daily rate at pay parking lots from $7 to $8, increase the hourly rate for lots and metered spaces from $1.25 to $1.50 and to extend the amount of time they enforce parking to 9PM rather than ending at 7PM.
No citizens or business owner’s spoke during the March 13, meeting. No public hearing was scheduled.
Kerry Loomis, general manager of Lanier Parking Solutions spoke to the Council about revenue trends and collections at Freeman Park as well as new opportunities to pay for parking and Freeman Park passes online using cell phones.
Loomis said they've seen an increase over the past few years in activity at night after 7PM when enforcement stops. She explained, "You guys have a number of events that attract visitors to your areas. We constantly try to think of ways that can increase revenue... We looked at about five different lots and measured the occupancy."
She explained, "We measured the occupancy. Assuming an occupancy of 30% knocks you down to about 109 spaces" out of 365 spaces and, "We looked at your peak season which is typically May through August, and your highest occupancy during those nights is Thursday through Saturday. We looked at the amount of revenue that could be collected if it was paid parking in that time frame." She said that could equate to an additional $18,000 to the Town's bottom line.
Loomis explained, "We do know there is a cost to the entertainment that is provided to the Town. Of course we've got the visitors coming in your main nights. Lanier is definitely prepared to provide additional ambassadors during that time period."
Councilman Lonnie Lashley asked, "Are you talking about extending our paid hours from 7PM to 9 or 10?"
Loomis said, "Yes sir."
Lashley said, "Right now we stop at 7PM for our boardwalk businesses."
The Town has around 760 public parking spaces in Town. 198 of them are on Lake Park Blvd that are time-limited with no charge.
Lashley said previously he inquired about raising the daily rate in parking lots from $7 to $8 a day and it was estimated it would bring in an additional $30,000 per year.
Loomis said, "I remember $28,000, but that's close."
Lashley said, "That's revenue. We need to consider that ok. And we need to consider that before the first of April. We don't want to think about the budget and change that in July if we want to do that. In fact, I'd be glad to recommend that tonight."
Lashley said they would need the additional revenue from the paid parking lots and the extra revenues by extending enforcement hours to charge people attending nighttime events in the downtown area.
He said, "We're up to $50,000. We're going to need that" because the Town Manager is talking about using $780,000 from reserve funds to balance the budget for next fiscal year. He said, "We need to look at that really hard by deleting something or increasing revenue."
Councilman Bob Lewis said, "We're only talking a $1.25 an hour extending for a few hours. I don't think it really harms anybody. Number two, we may have a new hotel under construction" in the near future that has in recent years served as a vacant lot providing free parking for the Boardwalk area.
Lashley made a motion stating, "I think we ought to increase our time at night from 7 to 9PM and also we ought to change our fee at our parking lots from $7 to $8 by the first of April this year."
Lashley initially said the hourly rate for parking is $1.25 and, "I'm not recommending anything for that."
Lashley said, "Mr. Shuttleworth just nudged me and said why not change the hourly rate to a dollar and a half. I have no problem with that."
Shuttleworth said, "I just asked why you didn't make the motion. I was just curious."
Lashley said, "But I will. I think that's good. I'm easy. We need revenue. I'm telling you, we need to generate revenue in this coming budget year. We need to start having monies for sand renourishment, about $300,000 a year. We need to address these things."
Councilman Lewis said, "I think something that brought this to light was, we were given results from Wrightsville Beach who collects two million dollars in parking fees and it cost a half million dollars to service that account. So they are generating $1.5 million without a Freeman Park."
Wrightsville Beach parking fees and citations are higher than Carolina Beach.
Wrightsville citations are $25 for first 72 hours and $50 after 30 days. In Carolina Beach, it's $15 to $25.
Mayor Rothrock repeated the motion stating, "To extend the hours of paid parking from 7PM to 9PM and also increase the rate from $1.25 to $1.50 per hour and that daily parking, full day, will be increased from $7 to $8. This will be affective 1st of April."
The Council voted unanimously.
At the Council's March 30, meeting, they voted to reverse part of their previous parking decision. They voted unanimously to maintain the parking rate increases but not to extend parking enforcement hours from 7PM to 9PM.
Town Manager Tim Owens said he budgeted for $204,000 in parking lot collections for the upcoming 2012-2013 fiscal year and, "I did not account for some of the stuff we did recently. Raises" and those increases would generate about $25,000 to $35,000 additional revenue.
Councilman Bob Lewis said, "A lot of business owners in the Central Business District... they just want to make sure that where we have the two hour parking, that the enforcement stays the way it was in years past."
Lewis said, "The parking rates are fine. The increases at the meters. But they are talking about the two hour parking."
Lewis said, "They just don't want enforcement" for extended hours.
Town Manager Tim Owens explained, "We anticipated that" and cautioned against having different hours of enforcement for parking lots and on-street metered parking spaces.
He explained, "It would create different situations in different areas" and creates confusion.
Owens said, "We are not going to do lot enforcement anyway probably after seven anyway. The bang for the buck is not worth it."
Owens said the Council could make a decision to stop enforcement at 7PM or 9PM throughout the Town.
Lewis explained, "I've got like four calls and all of the business owners are upset. People come in here at six o'clock, they are use to this thing where no one goes out there and gives citations after six or seven. But they just basically say that's gonna kill our customers" extending to 9PM.
Mayor Ray Rothrock said, "My thoughts are, if we want to do something like that is to not extend it to nine o'clock" and extending it to 9PM and not enforcing it is, "Like lowering the speed limit and telling police officers not to enforce it. I can't go along with that."
Owens said, "I agree and it should be either seven or nine across the board. I hate to lose that additional revenue but you also confuse folks by having your surface lots at 9PM and your free two hours at seven."
Rothrock said, "And we can do that right now if we want to and that way give Will something else to write about because we're not holding a public hearing. If we want to change it back to seven o'clock instead of nine. We can do it right now, legally."
Owens said he knew after the March 13, vote extending the hours of enforcement would be a problem for people visiting the boardwalk at 8PM for free fireworks displays throughout the summer months.
It would also affect other free events such as Family Night at the Boardwalk and free movies at the Carolina Beach Lake on Sundays throughout the season where the public traditionally has enjoyed free public parking as a way to encourage increased traffic at local businesses.
The Council voted unanimously to reserve the decision on hours of enforcement. Enforcement will continue to stop at 7PM.
Council member Steve Shuttleworth said, "We're not going to put it on the agenda..."
Rothrock said, "Well, we need to give Will something to talk about."
Shuttleworth explained, "We really don't need to give Will something to talk about."
Rothrock said, "So it's back to 7PM. Unanimous vote, back to 7PM. I've heard some things about it to. We learn by doing. We did and we undone it."
Councilman Lonnie Lashley said, "It won't be the first time."
Council member Sarah Friede said, "It probably won't the last." The Council was referencing "Will", the Editor of the Island Gazette and recent editorials concerning the lack of placing the extension of hours or increase in parking rates on the March 13, agenda and not holding a public hearing to find out how the citizens and business owners felt before making a decision. A decision which was partially reversed after receiving input from business owners after the fact.