Thursday, May 26, 2022

Proposed parking revisions would restrict downtown Wilmington parking on several blocks, increase fees

The proposed pilot program would increase the hours of resident-only parking on some downtown blocks. A separate but related resolution would increase parking permit costs and parking ticket fines.

New parking restrictions could be coming to residential areas in Downtown Wilmington (Port City Daily/File)
New parking restrictions could be coming to residential areas in Downtown Wilmington. (Port City Daily/File)

WILMINGTON — In any growing city parking can become a problem and Wilmington is no different. While living downtown might put you in the heart of the city, it also means residents are forced to compete with visitors and neighbors for parking spaces — a valuable commodity in Wilmington.

The City of Wilmington already has a Residential Parking Program (RPP) that was first created in 1996. The early rendition of the RPP restricts parking on 10 blocks from 11 p.m. – 3 a.m. daily, reserving these spaces for resident permit parking only. It was revised in 2002 but now the city is looking to implement a pilot program for 12 months that would increase parking restrictions.

“The RPP Program was revised in 2002, adding parking restrictions for non-permit holders during the hours of 9:00 AM – 6:30 PM, Monday – Saturday. There were no parking restrictions established during the hours of 6:30 PM – 11:00 PM Monday – Saturday or on Sunday, leaving a “gap” in enforcement of the program,” according to a resolution headed to City Council for approval.

But this gap has caused a problem for the city’s downtown residents.

“Downtown Wilmington’s commercial activity has seen tremendous positive growth over the past 17 years. The ‘gap’ in the current program’s structure has enabled additional commercial parking use activity within these residential district streets, with minimal restrictions in place. Staff and the City’s parking contractor conducted detailed occupancy counts from April 2019 – July 2019. At the completion of this initiative, staff, with support of the Downtown Parking Advisory Committee (DPAC), have determined that it would be beneficial to establish additional parking restrictions on certain blocks, for a twelve (12) month pilot period to help further promote the RPP Program’s goals,” according to the release.

The pilot program, if approved, will begin on Feb. 1, 2020, and end a year later. The new program would restrict parking on multiple city blocks restricting the amount on non-residential parking pass holders to almost nil.

The changes would include:

  • 200 block South Second St.; (Permit Only Parking 9:00 AM – 3:00 AM daily)
  • 200 block Orange St.100 block Ann St., 200 block Ann St., 300 block South Second St. (One (1) hour parking for non-permit holders 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM daily; Permit only parking 5:00 PM – 3:00 AM daily)

Property owners don’t really get a say in the matter, although it is unlikely anyone living on these blocks would be against having more options for parking. However, is a majority of the residents on a block wanted to opt-out of the pilot program them they could do so with a petition.

“During the pilot, there will be no changes made to the enforcement on remaining residential blocks that are currently enrolled in the City’s RPP Program. Residential blocks that are not currently enrolled in the City’s RPP Program will continue to follow the current guidelines to activate any parking surveys,” according to Council’s agenda.

But the pilot program is just one part of plans to revamp the city’s parking program. City Staff is also suggesting a 60% increase to parking violation fines in residential districts as well as an increase in the cost of residential permits.

If approved, the new fee structure would look like this.

  • Residential Parking Violation $40.00 per violation; this is an increase from the current fee of $25.00 (Section 5-122 City Code)
  • Annual Residential Permit $40.00 per permit; this is an increase from the current fee of $25.00
  • Annual Residential Long-Term Visitor permit $40.00 per permit; this is an increase from the current fee of $25.00
  • Annual Residential Long-Term Visitor permit $100.00 per permit, for second permit purchased; not currently available

 

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