OCEAN CITY – The eastern portion of 64th Street will become two-hour parking only to relieve the area from being a makeshift parking lot for taxi cabs.
During Friday’s Police Commission meeting, local Realtor Peck Miller came before the commission, representing Dead Freddies and 64th Street Shopping Center, requesting the implementation of two-hour parking on 64th Street.
“It has become a permanent parking lot back there for people who don’t know where to park, and I don’t believe that was what it was designed to do. We aren’t asking for paid parking, just two-hour parking for the businesses,” Miller said.
The area of 64th Street has had ongoing concerns regarding parking as most of the spaces are taken by parked taxi cabs leaving no room for commerce parking in the area.
Dead Freddies co-owner Steve Carullo presented the Police Commission last summer with his concerns. He reported there are about 60 parking spaces on 64th Street and on any given day there are 20 to 30 taxi cabs taking up the parking spaces that are available to customers of nearby businesses and the public at large.
Last September, the Police Commission reconvened to discuss the matter. City Solicitor Guy Ayres stated the way to alleviate taxi cabs from using parking on city streets is to amend the taxi cab ordinance to require taxi cab companies with a large fleet to provide some type of on premise parking. Ayres furthered it is legitimate to require businesses to have on-premise parking but acknowledged taxi cab companies are not the type of business to operate out of an office.
“Even if you push them to West Ocean City or somewhere out in the county, real estate still costs money,” Ayres said at that time. “It is going to be costly to them, and that cost will eventually be passed onto the customer. The question to you all is, is it in the best interest of the public to make a requirement of the cab industry that seems to me would tremendously increase their cost of operation.”
If the town were to consider not allowing taxi cabs that are not in service to park on city streets, Ayres warned the town would become discriminatory against the taxi cab industry by allowing other commercial vehicles to be parked on city streets but not taxi cabs.
The commission recognized there was not a simple solution and would approach the taxi cab industry over the issue to come up with some kind of solution.
At last Friday’s Police Commission meeting, City Engineer Terry McGean confirmed the parking matter remains an issue and that he and the police department are fine with a two-hour parking request.
Council President Lloyd Martin expressed concern over city employees parking on 64th Street as the Wastewater Treatment Plant, Public Works, including the municipal bus lot, and Public Safety Building are in that area. Martin furthered the residential units across Coastal Highway with limited parking look to the parking available on the bayside to utilize as well.
Mayor Rick Meehan suggested implementing two-hour parking on 64th Street on a trial basis.
“The problem is taxis are allowed to park on the streets … and I don’t know why the ordinance doesn’t state that taxis are not allowed to park on public streets,” he said. “But if you put in two-hour parking you are just going to move the problem two blocks the other way.”
McGean suggested implementing two-hour parking from the alley behind the shopping center east to Coastal Highway on 64th Street and leave the alley west on 64th Street as standard parking.
“That would keep the spaces directly in front of the Dead Freddies and the shopping center two-hour parking, and keep the spaces all the way to the west near the Wastewater Treatment Plant where the taxi cabs and our employees would still be able to use them,” McGean said. “The way I look at it is that would be the least disruptive space for them if we are stuck with them on the street, as well as keeps them away from the businesses.”
Councilman Dennis Dare made a motion to install two-hour parking on the eastern portion of 64th Street through the end of September and have the police department consult with the city solicitor about taxi cabs parking on public streets and return to the commission with a recommendation.
Dare pointed out the west end of 64th Street is slated for construction of a public boat ramp once negotiations to purchase the property are complete.
“That will give us a trial basis during the summer with this but I am still concerned about employee parking because what is going to happen is when we get into the boat ramp that second block of 64th Street is going to become part of the boat ramp parking, and so we will lose parking for the city employees,” he said. “We don’t have a permanent solution for our employee parking but we do have a transition point that it will give us some relief over the season here and hopefully resolve the issue with the taxi parking.”
The commission voted unanimously to forward a favorable recommendation to the full Mayor and City Council to implement two-hour parking on a portion of 64th Street and the alleyway. The council unanimously approved on Monday.