CAROLINA BEACH — For better or worse towns (just like people), often get reputations. In New Hanover County, for example, the Town of Wrightsville Beach is often juxtaposed with the Town of Carolina Beach with the former being ‘exclusive’ and the latter being more family-friendly and welcoming. A large part of the exclusivity claims about Wrightsville Beach can be tracked to the accessibility of parking as well as the cost of it. But at $3 an hour for most of the parking at Wrightsville Beach, the so-called ‘exclusive’ beach town is now a full $2 cheaper than its southerly counterpart in some cases.
On Tuesday, the Town of Carolina Beach’s Town Council approved a 100% increase in parking rates for the majority of town-owned parking lots raising the hourly rate to $5 per hour and $20 a day (up from $2.50 per hour and $17 per day).
Parking meters are also going up — although only to $3 per hour. Other parking increases are also planned, like the cost of non-resident parking passes, which have been increased to $175 annually up from $150, resident golf cart passes up from $20 to $40, and employee parking passes are going from just $25 to $100.
While many rates will be increasing, there will be a few cheaper parking lots further away from the beach as well as a free parking lot by the lake.
It was also revealed the town is looking to add several new parking lots in the town for increased visitor access.
Assistant Town Manager Ed Parvin explained that there were several parking lots throughout the town that are owned by private owners and operate as private parking lots that the town is hoping to acquire parking contracts for.
“There are several on here [the parking map] that we are looking to bring on … This one here, 400 Carolina Beach Avenue South, that is one we just brought on this week,” Parvin said.
This was actually part of the justification for the raising of the parking prices by Mayor of Carolina Beach LeAnn Pierce who explained that since these private companies are charging $5 per hour, landowners have gone into business with them as opposed to the town.
“The pricing that we have this year is consistent with what we saw last year, and we don’t know what that will be for the private lots this season but we lost them [the parking lots] because the private lots could bring in more revenue because they were charging a higher rate,” Parvin said.
Essentially, the town enters into revenue sharing agreements with private lot owners and both parties get a share of the fees collected so it makes sense for property owners to get the most amount of money they can for their land.
The new fees for parking will start on April 1, 2020.