Parking removed on side streets in Carolina Beach’s north end

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A blocked off side street between Canal Drive and Carolina Beach Avenue North in Carolina Beach after a recent storm. Photo by Hannah Leyva.
A blocked off side street between Canal Drive and Carolina Beach Avenue North in Carolina Beach after a recent storm. Photo by Hannah Leyva.

With support from residents, the Carolina Beach Town Council officially removed all on-street parking on side streets between Canal Drive and Carolina Beach Avenue North in the town’s north end.

“This is long overdue,” said Bonnie Warner, who lives on the 1300 block of Canal Drive and owns four properties there with her husband. “I thank [the council] very much for considering this.”

Officials have discussed making the change for months, citing public safety and traffic hazards as the reasons they are necessary. Sixteen streets, from Pelican Lane to Salt Marsh Lane between Canal Drive and Carolina Beach Avenue North, are affected.

Council also agreed to designate the streets as open to two-way traffic. Though they currently operate as such, they are technically one-way streets set in alternating traffic patterns thanks to an amendment that was adopted in February 2003 but for some reason never enforced.

The streets range from 20 to 24 feet wide, making it hard for large vehicles with wide turning radii like ambulances and fire trucks to enter when cars are parked on the side. The area is also prone to flooding, which makes accessibility for emergency vehicles a top priority. While on-street parking is not a big problem this time of the year, it is during the height of the tourist season.

“In the summer when all the condos are being rented out and we have all the tourists, there’s a lot of overflow parking on the streets,” said Warner, who’s lived on the island since 1972. “It does pose a problem.”

While adopting the changes was a no-brainer for most officials, there are still some concerns about education and enforcement from both councilmembers and residents.

“There will be plenty of signage” to alert people, said Town Manager Michael Cramer, noting that signs will be installed at the ends and in the middle of each street.

Cramer suggested giving the parking enforcement officers contracted through the town’s parking company, SP+, who patrol the municipal parking lots and metered spaces, the authority to ticket any violators to help ease the burden on the town’s police department.

“I think it’s a slippery slope to give a third party the power to enforce those rules,” said Mayor Dan Wilcox. “But I also don’t want to put more pressure on our police, so we’ll have to figure something out.”

Councilmember Steve Shuttleworth also requested that residents be given some flexibility in emergencies when they are sometimes asked to move their cars.

“I’d like some type of leeway in those situations with the police,” Shuttleworth said.

Cramer assured him that exceptions would be made in the event of an emergency in order to keep residents safe and said that town staff would work on figuring out the best way to handle enforcement.

After Shuttleworth made a motion to accept the changes, the ordinance passed unanimously.