Council Passes Trailer Ordinance Ahead Of October Auto Events

OCEAN CITY — As part of the ongoing effort to rein in some of the behavior associated with the vehicle-related special events, the Ocean City Mayor and Council on Monday passed an ordinance requiring registered participants to purchase a permit for parking oversized trailers on certain city streets.

Two weeks ago, the Mayor and Council were considering an outright ban on parking oversized trailers on city streets, but opted instead to institute a permit process for those special event participants. On Monday, the Mayor and Council passed the ordinance, but not before making some changes and leaving open the possibility for altering the fee cost or the fines.

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, contributing to congestion.

Earlier this month, the council introduced an ordinance banning the parking of oversized trailers on city streets and lots from May 1 to Oct. 1. However, the ordinance passed this week institutes a permit fee allowing only those officially registered for an event to park on city streets and lots after paying a $50 fee.

The ordinance changes the existing oversized vehicle restriction start date from June 1 to May 1 and extends the end date from Sept. 15 to Oct. 31. The permits will only be available for those officially registered for the events. The typical hangers-on that aren’t registered will not be able to park trailers on city streets during the prescribed time period and will have to choose other options, including the Park-and-Ride in West Ocean City or making arrangements with private property owners.

The council passed the ordinance this week, but not before some discussion about the cost of the fee. Councilmember Mary Knight raised concern paying the $50 fee was not enough of a deterrent for those who could opt to just pay the fine. Knight was concerned the $50 fee might not be enough and expressed a desire to leave the amount open-ended.

“I think we need to remove the $50 fee and leave it at an amount to be determined,” she said. “The fine of $30 per day for an oversized trailer is actually cheaper than the fee.”

Councilman Matt James agreed the ordinance could be passed and the amount of the trailer parking fee could be amended if so desired at a later date.

“I think we can take a look at this,” he said. “I don’t think we punish the person who got the permit, punish the person who broke the law.”

Councilman Wayne Hartman said the $50 fee might not be enough to deter event participants from parking trailers all over the city and raised the issue of adding a towing element to the ordinance.

“We need to have the ability to tow,” he said. “Adding towing instead of just paying the parking fine will give this some teeth.”

However, Assistant City Solicitor Heather Stansbury told the council adding a towing element could bring some liability issues.

Mayor and Acting City Manager Rick Meehan said there was a timing element to passing the ordinance with vehicle-related special events in October and urged the council to move forward.

“I don’t think we’re locked into that $30 fine for parking illegally,” he said. “We can make the punishment fit the crime. I think we need to pass this so the promoters can let their participants know the law has changed regarding the parking of trailers.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.