Condo Owners Irked Over Proposed Paid Parking Plan

OCEAN CITY – It’s deja vu for condominium owners on 146th Street as a paid parking battle they thought was won a few years ago has resurfaced.

Last Friday the Mayor and City Council voted to implement paid parking in several new areas around town, including the ocean block of 146th Street. After reading about the decision through this publication’s electronic news service, Ocean Place Condominium Association President of Board of Directors Ron Deacon reached out to The Dispatch and the Mayor and City Council to express his dismay.

“We are one of only a few streets that will have paid parking. I have never understood why a city government decides to implement a policy that significantly affects some of its taxpayers yet does not feel the need to let them know ahead of time or give them an opportunity to express their view. But apparently that does happen in Ocean City. Thank goodness other jurisdictions treat their taxpayers somewhat better,” Deacon wrote in a letter to the council. “We again oppose this action for several reasons. We will attend a council meeting and will do everything we can to reverse this decision. We believe that before this decision was made that input from nearby residents would have been very helpful. I would hope that the desire for revenue would not encourage the city government to ignore the wellbeing of a small group of its citizens.”

Fulton Brown, an Ocean Place resident of 30 years, followed with an email to the Mayor and City Council expressing his disappointment over the recent decision to install paid parking on 146th Street.

“You will recall that this issue came up three years ago. At that time, council made the unilateral decision to extend and widen our street, while giving consideration to paid parking. After the residents of Ocean Place voiced their concerns, the scope of the street expansion was modified, and the idea of singling out isolated streets for paid parking outside of the downtown CBD [Central Business District] was abandoned. Of great concern at that time and now again, is the fact that council made the decision without either notifying the affected taxpayers beforehand or soliciting our input. Isn’t it reasonable that the elected officials, spending my tax dollars, would at the very least extend the courtesy of soliciting input before they make decisions that directly impact me and my family?” Brown submitted.

Brown quoted City Engineer Terry McGean in his presentation to the Mayor and Council last Friday of the potential paid parking on 146th Street. “It appears to be pretty much daytrippers on this street,” McGean said.

McGean presented the Mayor and Council with an image found on Google Maps of 146th St. on a summer day when every parking space on the street is taken and the Ocean Place parking lot is mostly empty.

“Each condo owner has spaces deeded to them based on the number of bedrooms in their unit. As a two-bedroom unit owner, I have two spaces assigned. When children and friends come to visit, as they often do, they must park on the street. The installation of paid parking will result in residents having to pay to park at our residence. We will literally be feeding a meter all day long. It is genuinely offensive for our elected officials to repeatedly characterize us as ‘daytrippers’ without soliciting input or doing research,” Brown said.

Brown furthered 146th Street is the only residential street chosen by the council to install paid parking.

“Picking out an isolated residential street of outside the downtown CBD is akin to spot zoning … all the other spaces are either from the Boardwalk down to the Inlet, or in areas where installing meters would encourage the turnover of the spaces to the benefit of the local businesses,” Brown submitted. “I respectfully request that this decision be revisited once again. As a business owner, I can certainly appreciate the city’s need to increase revenues. Recognizing that, increasing revenues at the expense of one set of taxpaying residents is just wrong.”

In June of 2010, it was also during budget time the Mayor and Council were presented with implementing paid parking on 146th Street to increase revenue. In the end, after 27 angry emails and a flooded council chambers of peeved uptown residents, the council changed its mind about putting parking meters on the street.

The battle is sure to continue as Deacon and other residents are already planning on attending a Mayor and Council meeting in the near future.