OCEAN CITY — The new ordinance requiring registered participants in vehicle-related special events to purchase a permit for parking oversized trailers on certain city streets got a few tweaks this week, including changes to the fine schedule and a decision on the towing versus booting issue.
As part of the ongoing effort to rein in some of the behavior associated with the vehicle-related special events in the resort, including the Cruisin’ events, H2O International and Bike Week, for example, the Mayor and Council earlier this fall passed an ordinance requiring only those officially registered for the events to purchase a permit and a sticker to park oversized trailers on certain city streets. The stickers would have to be prominently displayed on the trailer and those “hangers on” not registered for the event would not be allowed to purchase them.
The intent of the ordinance is to curb some of the parking of oversized trailers all over the resort during the special event weekends, some of which cause traffic obstructions and other public safety concerns, and others that take up several public parking spots. The Mayor and Council passed the ordinance last month, but left open some of the particulars, including the cost of the permit, the fine schedule for multiple offenses and towing as a measure of last resort.
On Wednesday, the Police Commission took up the discussion and came to agreements on a variety of open-ended elements. For example, the commission agreed the permits would only be made available to those officially registered and the permit fee would be $50.
During earlier discussions, there was some debate about towing those trailers with permits or those parked illegally or jutting out into traffic lanes. Questions were raised about the liability of towing trailers, some of which likely house expensive vehicles. On Wednesday, the Police Commission said it would be more appropriate to “boot” the unregistered or illegally parked trailers, but that could lead to another set of unanticipated problems. For one thing, the commission was informed the city does not currently own any Denver Boots, which temporarily disable vehicles.
In addition, booting a trailer might result in the owner simply leaving it where it is parked illegally for the weekend until they are ready to leave.
“During the most recent event, we had a parked trailer blocking traffic,” Police Commission Chair and Councilman Doug Cymek said. “We tried to find someone to tow it, but there is only a few that do it. It was difficult to find someone. If they’re hanging out in traffic, are we going to boot them? That seems like it would just compound the problem.”
The ordinance as passed prohibits any trailer parking on narrow Baltimore Avenue whether it has a permit or not. OCPD Captain Kevin Kirstein said on Wednesday, most event participants are already complying with that.
“I think we were successful in keeping them in line and keeping them off Baltimore Avenue altogether,” he said. “I think we had great success with that this weekend.”
When the question came around to the possible fines, the commission agreed on a $250 fine the first day, followed by $500 on a second day and finally $1,000 for a third offense. OCPD Chief Ross Buzzuro said he thought the $250 fine for the first offense was appropriate.
“I think we need to make the fine starting at $250 this spring,” he said. “The word will get out quickly and it will remedy itself. Then we can go back and take a look at it and make it progressive.”
Mayor and Acting City Manager Rick Meehan said he believed most of the registered participants would fall into compliance before it came down to ticketing and booting trailers.
“We’re looking at the worst-case scenario,” he said. “Like it was said, we have had success in working with the promoter and getting the word out and I think we will get compliance. We don’t want to see people getting towed and ticketed.”