Friday, August 12, 2022

Not without pushback, Carolina Beach to start charging year-round for parking

Directly north of Kure Beach, the town of Carolina Beach enforces paid parking from the beginning of March through the end of October. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Carolina Beach, starting next fall, will begin charging visitors for parking in the offseason months. (Port City Daily/File)

CAROLINA BEACH — Pivot Parking, the firm set to take over operations on Carolina Beach following the town’s cutting of ties with its previous contractor, has been formally initiated.

During a meeting Tuesday morning — in advance of the post-election switchover to occur next month — town council kicked off its new relationship with Pivot Parking with a $125,000 payment. 

READ MORE: Lawsuits fly as upstart company inks parking management deals with local towns

Elected officials also approved numerous parking-related changes to policies and rates on Carolina Beach. 

After next summer, Carolina Beach will begin charging year-round for parking. At this time, metered spaces and town lots stop charging in November and resume operations in March. Starting next offseason, however, parking will cost $2 per hour or $10 per day. It will be enforced between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The motion passed in a 3-2 vote, with Mayor LeAnn Pierce and council member JoDan Garza opposing the year-round schedule. Garza appeared shocked upon hearing staff recommend that council eliminate free off-season parking, given that elected officials have publicly criticized such a prospect in recent months. 

“We spoke about that at two different meetings, at two different times,” Garza told staff in response to the proposal. “We adamantly said we didn’t want that and our community didn’t want that.”

Pierce, a hotel owner, also denounced the move, suggesting it appeared greedy and could devastate the traffic flow to small businesses on the island during the slower, colder months of the year.

“I am adamantly opposed to year-round parking,” Pierce said in an interview. “I was shocked myself to see it in the staff presentation because we, as JoDan said, clearly indicated to staff that we were not interested in doing that at this time.”

Staff estimated that year-round parking could create around $65,000 in new net revenue, but later indicated to council that figure was a guess. Pierce said she was surprised to see three council members support the change. 

“I told them as soon as we closed that meeting: ‘Y’all are going to take a beating on this,’” Pierce said. 

The cost of citations on Carolina Beach will double from $50 to $100. Failure to pay the ticket after five days will result in a $50 fine, and non-payment for another five days after that leads to another $50 fine. 

Summer parking enforcement — between March and the end of October — will start ending at 8 p.m. instead of 10 p.m. Council held steady at the hourly rate of $5 during summer months, but increased the daily fee from $20 to $25. 

For residential parking passes, property owners can procure unlimited passes for vehicles registered on the island but are limited to one pass otherwise. 

The town also altered ordinances related to temporary private lots on Carolina Beach, giving all private lot managers two years to bring their properties into compliance with the stricter regulations associated with permanent lot status. Permanent lots are able to charge for parking year-round, which factored into the town’s justification for moving toward that status itself: If the town establishes a $2-per-hour market rate, it could help keep private lots from charging for more.

While most of the new changes were rolled together into a single vote, Garza and Pierce had qualms only with provision that expands the parking season year-round.

“We are changing our dynamics from being that hip, cool spot, to now stepping that boundary of now it’s not,” Garza said during the meeting. 

Garza, along with fellow incumbent Steve Shuttleworth, did not run for re-election to council this year. Electees Mike Hoffer and Joe Benson will take their spots following victories in November. 

READ MORE: Familiar characters to fill new roles in Carolina Beach following election

Pierce, who also did not run for re-election, will be succeeded by current council member Lynn Barbee. One of the first acts of the new leadership will be to appoint someone to fill Barbee’s vacant council seat.


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