VENTNOR – Commissioner of Public Safety Tim Kriebel and Police Chief Douglas Biagi met with members of the North Beach Residents Association Saturday, Oct. 12 to discuss parking issues in their neighborhood.
The city is considering several options regarding a parking issue that came up during a town hall meeting several months ago. At issue is whether the city should keep the current two-hour parking restriction that is in effect in the North Beach area and if the city should continue issuing parking permits for residents.
“My impression is that the residents are leaning toward eliminating both regulations,” Kriebel said after the meeting. “I think they were surprised by the stats.”
According to a recent survey conducted by the Police Department, there are 650 parking spaces in the North Beach area, which encompasses streets located beach to bay and Jackson to Victoria Avenue. However, the city issued 6,630 parking permits this year at a cost of $1 each. The recent installation of a bike lane on Atlantic Avenue caused the city to lose eight parking spaces at each intersection because state regulations require 20 feet clearance at intersections, Biagi said.
“I was gob-smacked by the huge disconnect between the city’s policies and the information on the street,” Kriebel said.
According to Kriebel and Biagi, any resident or employee of a local businesses is eligible to receive a parking permit, including residents of the city’s three high-rise buildings.
Although many of the high-rise units come with an on-site parking space, some residents have to pay extra to have a parking spot on the premises, a resident of 5000 Boardwalk said.
“We pay $900 a year to have our parking space,” she said.
Kriebel attended the meeting to obtain input from residents about any potential changes to city ordinances and policies. He said no solution will please everyone, especially during the 100 days of summer when the population rises from 10,000 to 30,000.
“We’re trying to get ahead of this for when the (Ventnor Square) theater opens,” Kriebel said.
The theater, which is currently undergoing extensive renovations, is slated to open in January 2020 on Ventnor Avenue. Residents are fearful the theater will exacerbate parking issues in the North Beach area.
Any changes in the city’s parking ordinances will have to be made shortly after the new year so they can be in effect by the time summer visitors arrive in spring.
“We don’t want to make any changes on our own,” Biagi said, “that’s why we’re having this meeting now.”
Kriebel relayed several options under consideration, including leaving the two-hour parking limit and permit policy in place; raising the cost of permits to $10 for residents, $25 for guests; issuing permits for the 100 days of summer only; raising the cost of parking permits to several hundred dollars; limiting residents of the high-rises to one or two permits per unit; or completely eliminating the time limit and permitting system.
Residents offered several comments about “morality” issues, such as people taking up two on-street parking spaces to save a space for a friend or relative; residents parking on the street and saving space in their driveway for friends or relatives; and parking too close to a driveway, which causes problems for motorists backing out of their driveways.
“It’s neighbors causing problems for other neighbors,” one resident said.
Biagi recommended residents call the non-emergency phone number so police can respond. He said those who violate the law will receive a ticket, but he does not like to get cars towed unless it is blatantly unsafe.
A resident suggested marking out parking spaces, but Biagi said that would eliminate several parking spaces on each block due to state laws that regulate the length of the parking space.
Kriebel said the city will be reaching out to property owners and businesses that have parking lots about shared parking arrangements or establishing their own fee-paid parking.
“No matter what you do, people will have their complaints,” one resident said. “Education is important. There is nowhere people can get information about parking regulations.”
Biagi and Kriebel said residents and visitors have access to the city’s website, where ordinances and codes are posted.
Most of the residents in attendance agreed that the parking situation is more of an “inconvenience” than it is a problem.
“I’ve been a resident for 33 years. It is not an issue. It is what it is,” he said.
Another said all shore towns have parking problems and people who chose to live in shore towns just have to deal with it.
Yet another resident suggested the city pen a letter with all parking and safety regulations and hire high school students to put them on the windshields of vehicles so everyone knows the rules for the 100 days of summer.
“I think people feel the regulations are more of a hindrance than a solution,” Kriebel said.
He said he plans to visit the high-rises to obtain more input from residents before anything is decided.
“We’ll take the show on the road before we make the decision,” he said.
Kriebel said he would likely make a recommendation to the full Board of Commissioners shortly after the new year.