Last week I attended one of the many parking roundtables that had been organized by each board member for small group discussions. Mayor Lynn Barbee, City Manager Bruce Oakley and Deputy City Manager Ed Parvin were on hand at City Councilor Deb LeCompte’s meeting to explain why the new parking decisions were made, why the new company was chosen and answered all questions.
The argument is that the City of Carolina Beach cannot be competitive in managing parking for leased land if it does not charge year round. That private car park management companies rather than the city, would be more attractive to landowners when leasing their land. If taxpayers did not want to see further increases, the City had to generate more revenue. However, what struck me about the presentation was that approximately 8,000 residential, commercial, non-resident and weekly passes were sold last year for 800 city-managed spaces. This has given the private sector that does not recognize city permits the opportunity to profit more as they do not accept city passes and may charge the highest rate. Mr. Jeff Reitzel, owner of the canal parking lot, spoke about it in an email to city staff, saying: “How does the City separately calculate the income generated by my loss when leasing the adjoining city’s own land? In addition, the town sells annual passes, and many locals frequent Stoked and the Marina, so revenue would be drastically reduced compared to parking more likely to be used by visitors. This means that 1. PIVOT and the City have not obtained leases on all of their land there because the revenue projection is not accurate. 2. Private owners know that renting across town with their Town Pass has a huge impact on their income.
After much discussion and many guests in attendance disagreeing with year-round parking, Mayor Barbee added that he was in the community. The people he spoke with were 80/20 for year-round parking. of people they spoke to were 80/20 against changes throughout the year.
We reached out to those in attendance to ask how they thought the meeting went and here are the responses we received. “It was enlightening, but at the same time disappointing. I think participants were hopeful that the outcome would be that Council consider putting the brakes on the situation until more information is gathered, especially from businesses regarding year-round parking and employees. I am not sure this is the case. -Cindy Dunn.
“As an uninvited observer, I did not actively participate in the meeting. However, I saw the mayor spend an hour trying to justify council’s latest decision to approve the new parking policy, including the decision to approve year-round parking. From my seat, it was not a good meeting for the mayor. While the group as a whole expressed some appreciation for the format of the meeting, they also expressed frustration with the decision-making process. I think all participants agreed that these types of meetings should take place before the Council votes on important matters. Keep in mind that this was supposed to be a roundtable with a discussion from a small group of participants, but it didn’t really materialize. A few sharp comments and questions were rightly thrown at the mayor about the city’s decision to move to year-round parking, which has already become a PR nightmare for Carolina Beach. More than a handful of us at this meeting were also at the chamber workshop in November, when the decision was made to approve the 2022 parking policy. I don’t think any of the attendees at this meeting were. meeting either in favor of the new policy. FYI, I am not in favor of year round parking. With stakeholder input, we can do better as a city that relies on neighboring communities to support our businesses during the off-season. Charging for parking from November to February will result in minimal financial gain for the hassle it will cause for everyone. Transparency has gone crazy in this case. – Matt Dunn.
“I think it was somewhat productive and very educational. I feel like I really understand the parking situation and what they are doing about it. However, I really hope they will reconsider the pricing of street seats in the winter and keep them free. I also like the idea of quick pickup points all year round if that is even being considered. It would also support Airbnb’s idea for parking, but I just don’t understand the logistics of implementation. –Karen Graybush.
“A round table is a table that has no ‘head’ or ‘sides’, and therefore no one seated in their place enjoys a privileged position and all are treated equally.” –
Wow! The meeting was anything but a “round table”. It was frustrating and sometimes shocking. Elected officials must represent all voters, not just those who agree with them. We were even told, “I can fill this room with people who will tell everyone you’re crazy.” I am very disappointed with the lack of transparency and respect. – Melanie Boswell.
In an email to City Councilor Deb LeCompte, Noel Stevens said: “I really feel like not everyone understands why people are upset with parking. Unfortunately, we have had very little discussion about the real impact of metered parking, which in my opinion is more of what upsets people than the lots. “