Proposed Resort Trailer Ban Reversed For Permit Fee For Some

OCEAN CITY — Amid other changes that arose this week on how the Town of Ocean City deals with vehicle-related special events was a reversal on a proposed ban on parking of oversized trailers on city streets.

Last week, the Mayor and Council introduced a couple of ordinances aimed at taming the popular but often troublesome vehicle-related special events in the resort each spring and fall. Striking a balance between welcoming the throngs that attend the special events and protecting public safety and maintaining some semblance of order in the resort was a stated goal of town officials after a particularly troublesome spring Cruisin’ event and to that end, the Mayor and Council last week introduced a handful of ordinances directed at the vehicle-related special events.

Among the proposed changes was a ban on parking trailers on municipal lots and city streets. During the spring Cruisin’ event and similar events throughout the spring and fall, hot rod enthusiasts who tow their classic cars to the resort often park their oversized trailers wherever they can find space along public streets and municipal parking areas, often creating traffic hazards and gobbling up multiple parking spots, which contributes to the traffic and congestion.

Last week, the Mayor and Council introduced an ordinance banning the parking of oversized trailers on city streets and lots from May 1 to Oct. 1, which would encompass the vehicle-related special event season. However, this week, like they did with other ordinances introduced to calm the special events, city officials reversed course and opted instead to institute a permit fee allowing only those officially registered for an event to park on city streets and lots at a price.

The proposal approved on first reading on Tuesday would charge event participants a $50 fee to park on city streets. The permits would not be offered to the many hangers on and wannabes that attend the special events, but only those who officially register. The permits will be dated and color-coded to special events and will not be transferrable. Those registered for special events who do not wish to pay the $50 fee will be encouraged to park their trailers at the Park-and-Ride in West Ocean City or find other arrangements to park their trailers on private property.

Non-registered participants will not be given the option to purchase the $50 parking permit. Mayor and Acting City Manager Rick Meehan presented the idea during the council’s regular session on Tuesday.

“If they are registered for the event, they will have the opportunity to pay for the $50 permit to park on the city streets, or they can use the Park-and-Ride at no costs,” he said. “This is a fair solution and it could cut down on all of the trailers for the wannabes that clutter the roads and create problems.”

Meehan said the permits could serve the dual purpose of reducing the number of trailers on city streets while producing some revenue to offset the town’s cost of hosting the events.

“It costs the town around $20,000 to bring in extra law enforcement agencies to assist during these events,” he said. “The permits for trailers could offset some of that. If we registered 400 trailers at $50 each, you can see where that gets to that $20,000 figure.”

Meehan said the proposed permit for trailers could spur some private enterprise. For example, churches or private sector businesses closed at that time of year could open their lots for trailers at a cost, although the town would have no purview on that.

“This will open up some business opportunity for some of the lots that are vacant or closed at that time of year,” he said.

While the council generally embraced the concept, some wanted some tweaks added. For example, Councilman Wayne Hartman suggested the permits not be issued for Baltimore Avenue, which could not support trailer parking.

“My one concern is Baltimore Avenue,” he said. “With the width of Baltimore Avenue, even with a permit these trailers are oversized. I think the permits should exclude any parking on Baltimore.”

Councilman Doug Cymek agreed, saying, “Sometimes they have wheels on the sidewalk or obstructing traffic. I think it’s appropriate to exclude Baltimore Avenue.”

Councilman Dennis Dare suggested the motion to approve the parking permit measure be amended to exclude any parking on Baltimore Avenue

“Most of the parking areas in the city are 10 feet wide, but Baltimore Avenue is only eight feet,” he said. “It’s appropriate to exclude Baltimore from the approved areas.”

Councilmember Mary Knight questioned whether the permit fee was set at a high enough figure.
“I don’t know if $50 is the right number,” she said. “Maybe making it $100 is appropriate because they are taking up two parking spots.”

After considerable debate, the council voted to approve on first reader the new parking permit ordinance with an effective date of May 1 and with Baltimore Avenue excluded.